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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 26) – The Naviti Resort plans to expand its rooms, build a 700-delegate conference center and an 18-hole golf course in addition to the FJ$15million [US$8.6 million] expansion recently completed.

[PIR editor’s note: The Naviti Resort is located on the southern coast of Viti Levu island in Fiji.]

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase officially opened the extension yesterday, saying tourism was the most important industry for Fiji and it had continued to grow above the world average.

The latest investment by the resort saw the construction of two three-story accommodation blocks now offering 78 deluxe suites. In addition, there are 12 individual beachfront villas of which four are two-bedroom suites, boosting the room capacity of the hotel to 250 rooms. A "Joy" beauty spa and 1.1million liter swimming pool with sunken pool bar is part of the new extension.

Work was done on the resort's water treatment plant, sewerage treatment plant, hot water and air conditioning systems.

There is some beautification work being carried out on the seafront.

Warwick International - owners of Naviti Resort - vice president and regional manager of the South Pacific Jamal Serhan said the upgrading was consistent with the quality of amenities, facilities and services expected of Warwick Resorts in the South Pacific.

Mr. Qarase said the flow-on effects to the local community from the investment by the resort were tremendous.

"Benefits to the local community go beyond wages," Mr. Qarase said. "The extended resort accommodation will now see more money flowing into the local community. The lease arrangement is based on turnover. The better the resort does, the more income for landowners," he said.

Mr. Qarase said his government would continue to support tourism and while it would encourage development of large hotels, it would try and spread benefits more widely by promoting the setting up of smaller operations.

Last year, about 25,000 people stayed at the Naviti Resort.

Fiji Visitors Bureau chief executive Viliame Gavoka said early last week the industry was on track to becoming a FJ$1 billion earner [US$577 million]. The industry earned FJ$519 million [US$299.4 million] last year, expects to top FJ$600 million [US$346.2 million] this year and hit the billion-dollar mark next year.

February 27, 2006

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