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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 9) - Hotel occupancy rate in the Northern Division continues to suffer at a rate of 30 per cent compared to 70 percent for the same period last year.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji’s Northern Division is one of four Divisions into which Fiji's fourteen Provinces are grouped. The administrative centre of the Division, where main governmental departments are located, is Labasa. The Northern Division includes three Provinces: Macuata, Cakaudrove, and Bua, and includes the entire island of Vanua Levu]

Savusavu Tourism Association president Lorna Eden said the hotel industry was in its high season where bigger hotels should be at least on the 90 percent rate of hotel occupancy and the smaller hotels at 70 percent.

"Although for the northern hotels, the occupancy rate stabilized a few months after the December 5, 2006 event, it has remained at that trend of 40 percent which is low," Mrs. Eden said. But the northern association blames the travel advisories for such result.

"It's the travel advisories by the Australian and New Zealand governments which are so unfair because what they say on their advisories is not happening in Fiji. Tourists from bigger countries have continued to come in and enjoy the beaches, the sunshine and there is no sign of violence. Their advisories are really unfair."

She said such advisories had affected employment where hotel owners had to reduce working hours and lay off workers.

"For us in the North, we have so far only reduced the working hours because we don't want to lay off any worker," she said. "This will be easy to do in the North because the hotels are small and the workforce is also small so we only reduce the working hours which means less salary but at least people are still receiving some money to take home."

The situation continuously faced by the hoteliers has not dampened their spirits in luring tourists to the Friendly North.

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