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Whales, water, culture potential draws

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 21, 2010) – The Tongan government has turned to a New Zealand manager to help it boost its tourism industry.

It has employed the chief executive of Nelson Tasman Tourism, Paul Davis, to push the appeal of the Friendly Islands.

Mr Davis says Tonga’s tourism industry is strong and has the potential to become even more competitive.

"Whalewatching and scuba diving, sailing especially. I also think the living culture of Tonga is a real point of difference compared to other Pacific Islands. And it’s the closest to New Zealand and flying time is pretty short up there; it’s very accessible and very affordable as well."

Tonga is part of the Business Opportunity Support Scheme, which aims to encourage commercial investment and increase earnings from exports and tourism.

The scheme is a joint initiative by the private sector and the New Zealand and Tongan governments and provides grants of up to 23,000 US dollars for investors..

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