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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Mar. 11) – Tonga will feature prominently at Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, according to Tonga’s Director of Tourism, Va’inga Palu.

He said that although the Pacific Pavilion houses exhibitions from 11 Pacific island countries, the dominating display at the pavilion is a Tongan kalia – a voyaging canoe that had been on display at the Tongan National Centre.

The theme for Expo 2005 is "Nature’s Wisdom", and in line with the theme the Pacific Pavilion is decorated with natural items.

Va’inga said that several containers of coconut logs and coconut leaves had been shipped to Japan for the decoration of the Pacific Pavilion.

The Expo 2005 will be officially opened on March 25, and it will run for six months, until September 25. Va’inga said that 125 countries will exhibit at the Expo, and it is estimated that 15 million people will visit the Expo 2005 site.

Vainga said that Tonga’s stand at the Pacific Pavilion will be attended to by 'Elenoa Fonua and Tevita Kilisimasi. ‘Elenoa is from the Tonga Visitors’ Bureau and Tevita is from the Ministry of Labour, and both are fluent in Japanese. All expenses for the Tongan attendants and Tonga’s participation at the Expo is financed by the Japanese government.

Va’inga said that at the Tongan stand they will be displaying handicrafts, Nonu products, coffee and other Tongan manufactured goods, "some of these products may be sold during the Expo, and they may have to be replenished during the six-months." The bigger picture though according to Va’inga is to promote Tonga as a holiday destination and to attract foreign investment to Tonga."

There are two main occasions during the Expo when Tonga will have to make a presentation, at the opening on March 25 and at our national day, July 4. Va’inga hopes that a government representative will be able to attend, and Va’inga also hopes that a traditional dancing troupe will be able to attend, "the problem is that we have to pay for their travelling and their expenses."

Va’inga also has a plan B. With regards to the dancers - we could send two dancing experts to teach the Tongan students in Japan to perform for us on our national day. If that does not work he said that Tonga’s sister city in Japan Owari – Asahi has offered to look after the dancers when they arrive in Japan.

March 14, 2005

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