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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 28) - A tourism project worth FJ$2 billion [US$1.1 billion] and employing 3,000 workers during construction, will get off the ground in Fiji's western division shortly, says Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Speaking during the 2006 Fiji National Economic Summit in Suva, Qarase said the Vulagi [Guest] project would provide 4,000 permanent jobs for locals once completed.

Qarase said the project would be equivalent to the scale of the successful Denarau Island resorts "that is Fiji's most successful single center for foreign investment."

The Vulagi project was originally a project initiated by J.S. Hill. According to Qarase, JS Hill has sold out its interests to three foreign business people.

He said these "substantial business people" are already in the country working on some other projects and are hoping to start work on the Vulagi project as soon as possible.

"They are at this moment seeking all the approvals that they need and we can expect to see some bulldozers soon starting work at the site," Qarase said.

He made this announcement amidst concerns over low investor confidence.

"I can tell you that there is plenty of investment confidence at the moment, particularly in tourism, our greatest generator of foreign exchange and flagship of Fiji's current growth," he said.

"It is in the midst of unprecedented expansion, which has been well above the world average."

Qarase said there are many investors who have committed to "some of the largest resort constructions projects Fiji has ever seen".

"A 2005 survey put the combined value of tourism projects actually being built at more than FJ$1 billion [USA$578 million].

"This has helped to drive the boom in the industry," he added.

September 29, 2006


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