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By Scott Radway

KOROR, Palau (Pacific Daily News, Mar. 22) - Advance teams from nearly 30 Pacific countries, territories and island groups are here to discuss the coming Festival of Pacific Arts. The teams were pleased with the preparations, Palau President Tommy Remengesau said.

But there was one major concern among many teams: how to get their people here for the July event, Remengesau said.

Visitors travel to Palau through limited flights out of airports in Guam, Manila, Taipei and Tokyo. For South Pacific islands, where the majority of participants originate, those airports are out of the way and would involve numerous connecting flights.

"Their big concern is travel time and cost," Remengesau said.

The event, which begins on July 22 and wraps up on July 31 under a full moon, brings Pacific islanders together every four years to celebrate and preserve their unique heritage.

Since it began in 1972, the event site has rotated between Polynesian and the Melanesian islands.

As of last Thursday, there are expected to be 2,500 participants traveling to Palau for the 2004 festival, said Yvonne Singeo, secretary for the Belau Organizing Committee. The majority will stay in schools converted into dormitories, she said.

The hotels - and about 1,000 rooms - also are nearly fully booked, Singeo said. There also will be home stays and yachts in Palau for the festival. The total number of spectators is unknown.

But it should be a packed house in Palau, as long as people can get here.

Remengesau said a new regional airline expected to start flying in April or May is open to adding flights from Darwin, Australia, to Palau. The airline, Palau Micronesia Air, already plans to fly twice a week from that city, but could possibly add flights to accommodate participants, he said.

Remengesau said discussions to add chartered flights from Australia also are taking place with Continental Airlines, presently the only regional carrier in Micronesia

March 22, 2004

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