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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (March 31, 2002 - Oceania Flash)---French Polynesia's crucial tourism industry is receiving a significant boost with the establishment of a new Tahiti college dedicated to the visitor industry, the French territory's government said in a release.

Laying of the foundation stone took place last week.

The new college, being constructed in the Pape‘ete suburb of Punaauia, is expected to train about 850 students a year

It will host four 60-seat training restaurants and a twenty-room "student resort."

In laying the foundation stone of the 25 million Euros (US$ 21.8 million) project, President Gaston Flosse emphasized that 65 percent of the funding is coming from France, with the remainder from French Polynesia.

Flosse said, "We have believed for many years that education in the hospitality sector is one of our first priorities, because it prepares our young ones to fully take part in the growth of a crucially important sector for our economy's growth: tourism and hospitality.

"This growth of our tourism industry is not over. There are many hotel and resort projects currently under way. There are jobs there," he said.

Construction of the college is scheduled to be completed in July of next year.

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