TONGA CULTURAL FESTIVAL HOPES TO ATTRACT TOURISTS

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Princess Latufuipeka Tuku‘aho was guest of honor

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 18, 2008) – A new national cultural festival aims to attract more tourists to Tonga by showcasing Tonga’s unique cultural heritage through traditional dancing and singing during the holiday season.

An initiative of the Ministry of Tourism, the festival was launched in Vava'u on December 8 to 9 before continuing to Ha'apai on December 11-12 and to 'Eua on December 14-15.

It will be held for two days December 17-18 in Nuku'alofa with a theme 'Embracing our unique cultural heritage'.

HRH Princess Latufuipeka Tuku'aho was the guest of honour at yesterday's opening at Pangai Lahiu. The Minister of Tourism Hon Fineasi Funaki said that in a survey conducted by the Ministry of Tourism they asked tourists why they come to Tonga "and most of them answered because they were intrigued by our culture. Tonga has a unique culture and heritage and we should embrace and live for it."

Traditional dances performed included a solo tau'olunga by the current Miss Heilala Fiona Makisi.

Youth groups performed a group tau'olunga and kailao dance with two songs by Angela Afeaki from her popular album 'Tongan Rendezvous.'

The program includes a Talent Quest, more ta'u'olunga performances and entertainment by Angela Afeaki and Sean Paul Po'oi.

Today, the final day, the program will have competitions in traditional folk singing, tau'olunga, Christmas carols and poetry reading. A handicraft exhibition is also on display at Pangai Lahi.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

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