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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (July 17, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---English hotel giant Bass Asia Pacific director Richard Hartmann is currently on a familiarization visit in French Polynesia following the group’s takeover of SPHC (Southern Pacific Hotels Corporation), the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti reports.

Bass took over SPHC at end of March, a global transfer that involved some AUS$ 300 million (US$ 176,749,500) and some 3,000 hotels and resorts worldwide branded as Centra, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, Intercontinental and Parkroyal.

In French Polynesia, the transaction affected three resorts under the Parkroyal brand in Tahiti, Moorea and Bora-Bora.

Currently ranked the second largest hotel and resort concern, the group is in the territory to inspect the three assets.

(Latest statistics show that tourism arrivals into French Polynesia increased by 12 per cent last year.)

SPHC is an Australian-owned group, which until last March owned some 59 resorts in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Malaysia, India and French Polynesia.

Talking about the current situation in Fiji where his company now owns the two Centra hotels (one in Suva and one in Pacific Harbour, about 50 kilometers/30 miles from the capital), Hartmann said, at the moment the Suva Centra is doing really well, mainly because it is currently home to numerous foreign media representatives covering the crisis.

"But for the resort-type customers, this is a catastrophe. I was involved in the Sheraton Fiji during the 1987 coups. This had nothing to do with what's going on today. In 1987, it was business as usual; there was no violence. This time there's no more business and it will be extremely difficult to put everything back into place. This will take a long time. (George) Speight has created long-time damage", he said.

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