SAVUSAVU RESORT PROJECT PROMISES JOBS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 15) - A FJ$70 million (US$41.6 million) waterfront resort being built in Savusavu, on Fiji’s Vanua Levu, is expected to create more than 200 jobs.

Developers say the new resort will have 300 waterfront villas, an 86-berth marina for yachts and a Harbourside building, which will comprise 14 luxury apartments, shops, offices and a supermarket.

The project is spearheaded by Kilowen Fiji Limited, the Fiji Investment Corporation, Kontiki Growth Fund and the Fiji National Provident Fund, which is funding a loan for the Harbourside building.

Known as Savusavu Harbourside Limited (SHL), the investors will team up with Hopper Development, which has developed three similar marina villages in New Zealand.

SHL spokesperson Moape Kaloumaira said the five-phase construction began last week with a ground breaking ceremony for the phase one - the FJ$3.5 million Harbourside building.

The second and fifth phases will include land reclamation and the third and fourth phases include building waterfront villas and a hotel.

He said overseas investors, especially those from the European market, had shown keen interest in buying villas operated by the hotels.

Speaking on behalf of Robin Irwin, Chairman of Savusavu Harbourside Limited, Kaloumaira said the marina village aimed to satisfy the needs of nautical tourism such as cruising and diving.

He said the main vision was to create a tourist village centered on the yachting potential.

"There has been a dramatic increase in the number of yachts arriving from three to four a year in 1980 to 312 last year," Kaloumaira said.

"Already this is bringing around FJ$1million a year to Savusavu and a lot of the prosperity seen in Savusavu is due to that decision which took the Government 10 years to make. This prosperity will further increase now that Savusavu Marina Village is at last underway."

The other vision for the project was for Fijian participation in both management and ownership in such a project when the development was well established.

The development sees an agreement by the Tikina of Savusavu to allow the company to lease the seabed for boat/yacht berthage.

Kaloumaira said two coups here had resulted in the company spending FJD$4 million (US$2,377,600) to date over 20 years with no result.

He said it was appropriate that the reasons for this were stated.

The other was the failure of the National Bank of Fiji, which caused loss of inventor confidence generally that such a Government owned bank could be so mismanaged.

Another major hindrance was lack of interest by Australian banks based in Fiji to assist with any loans to new tourism developments on Vanua Levu.

"No serious investor will invest if bank loan finance is not forthcoming for at least half of a viable project cost," Kaloumaira said.

"The lack of interest by Government itself to address the vitally needed infrastructure required to develop Savusavu as a thriving tourist center was another frustration.

"These have to be addressed before the project can finally fully proceed. Without the financial commitment and patience of the English investors - Robin Irwin, Patrick Paul and Graham Oldreive through all these trials, we would not be here today."

The Ministry of Tourism welcomed the development, hoping that investment and expansion in tourism would generate income not only for Savusavu but the entire Vanua Levu and its neighboring islands.

June 16, 2005

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