FIJI’S GROWING PACIFIC HARBOUR GENERATES JOBS

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FIJI’S GROWING PACIFIC HARBOUR GENERATES JOBS

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Mar. 13) - At least 200 new jobs have been created in Pacific Harbour as an outcome of developments at the Arts Village.

Arts Village managing director, Eric Roberts said new businesses such as shops and a backpacker's resort as well as expansion of existing businesses at the Arts Village had created employment opportunities for many.

"Altogether about 200 people have been employed, not counting others who had been involved in the construction and development work. We have 60 shops at the moment and there will be around 100 by the time we finish," Roberts said.

Eight new shops are scheduled to open this month, a dozen more next month, two opened for business in February while a few others were set up late last year.

New businesses at the Arts Village consist of a gym, Laundromat, hardware store, bike shop, beauty and hair salon, a restaurant and an Internet shop.

The backpacker beach bunkhouse and apartments, TSULU will be officially opened next month during the Easter weekend on April 15.

The backpacker resort has bunkrooms, which can accommodate 96 people at FJ$28 to $36 [US$15 to US$20] a night per person.

Roberts, who is also the director of TSULU, said the resort was more of a luxury backpacker style accommodation.

"We have a high ratio of beds to showers and toilets.

"The Australian standard is eight beds to one shower while we have a ratio of six beds to a shower or toilet.

"We just wanted to open up a different product for tourism here in Pacific Harbour where the jungle meets the ocean. TSULU is run by the Arts Village, the name is just for distinction between the different market it serves which is backpackers."

Rosie Tours group coordinator Eroni Bole, one of the first people to use the bunkrooms, said he could not believe the quality of facilities and service at TSULU.

"The beds here are so comfortable and they also have a poolside bar and such a nice swimming pool. I take tourists to a lot of places in Fiji and most backpackers don't have so many nice amenities," he said.

The swimming pool features a large 'Tiki' carved from stone at one end which has an 18-meter [60 feet] waterslide, Fiji's largest swim up bar, a hot spa and a cool spa and a stage for regular shows and bands.

Roberts said all the projects took a year and a half to plan and put into action with more than a million dollars invested into the venture by him and his wife Sarah, the Arts Village director.

"One of the major challenges was the initial perception of Pacific Harbour where everyone saw it as run-down. People felt it was never going to change but I noticed an avenue for change and decided to do this.

"Now there are some very prominent business people who are joining in on development of property," he said.

March 14, 2006

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