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TONGA KING’S CORONATION LEFT BILL OF $9.6 MILLION Elaborate uniform, food, and brand new throne

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Radio Tonga News, Dec. 22, 2008) - The economic impact of the Coronation of His Majesty King George Tupou V on Tonga's economy is estimated at 19.7 million pa’anga [US$9.6 million].

[PIR editor’s note: The Central Intelligence Agency says that, in the year 2000, Tongan citizens had an average income of US$220,000 ]

This was the result of a survey and analysis carried out by Dr. Semisi Taumoepau, in conjunction with the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI) based at the Auckland University of Technology. Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau, a former Director of Tourism for Tonga, is the Head of the Hospitality and Tourism Management programme at AIS St Helens, Auckland and is an Associate Director of the NZTRI.

"Hosting of special and major events in the South Pacific region generate a substantial amount of economic benefits to host countries, obtained directly from tourists expenditures as well as from income multipliers generated. The Coronation of His Majesty King George Tupou V in August this year is a prime example of this," Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau said.

Dr. Taumoepeau also said that the total number of visitors to Tonga for the Coronation was estimated at 6,600 and they surveyed more than 500 of them as well as more than 40 business houses.

"The $19.7 million brought in by the Coronation impacted all business sectors in the Kingdom including tourist accommodation , local transport, restaurants, supermarkets and retail stores, local handicrafts producers, local farmers and fisher-folks and recreation and entertainment businesses," he said.

According to statistics just released by the Ministry of Tourism, air visitor arrivals to Tonga in July 2008 totaled 6,618 which was an increase of almost 50 percent from the July 2007 figure of 4,446. Air visitor arrivals for August and September 2008 also saw significant increases in comparison to 2007.

"The results of the survey and analysis conducted by Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau and NZTRI more than confirm our own forecasts on the economic impact of His Majesty's Coronation on Tonga's economy. In fact their estimate of around $20 million is double our original forecast," The Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon Feleti Vaka'uta Sevele said.

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