RMI Government Buys Hotel To Establish USP Campus

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Conversion of Long Island Hotel reduces available hotel rooms on Majuro

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, June 2, 2014) – The Marshall Islands government has bought a hotel in Majuro and will turn it into a campus for the University of the South Pacific.

The government made a $2 million down payment on the $3.8 million price tag for the 36-room Long Island Hotel. The government purchase reduces available hotel rooms in Majuro to about 150, with most of those at the other government-owned Marshall Islands Resort.

"A $2 million down payment was approved toward $3.8 million required to procure the Long Island facility for the purpose of establishing the University of the South Pacific campus in Majuro," said president’s office spokesperson Denise deBrum-Reiher on Friday.

"The Attorney General’s Office is to develop and execute a bill of sale and necessary sub-lease agreement."

Development of a north Pacific campus for USP in Majuro has been discussed by government leaders for many years. Currently, USP operates a college preparatory "foundation" program as well as an extension center that provides both classroom and distance learning options, including a master’s program.

The $2 million down payment was made from funding generated by the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority from its commercial fisheries operations. The $1.8 million balance due will reportedly be funded by Taiwan.

"The Marshall Islands has received tremendous support for establishment of a Majuro USP campus," said deBrum-Reiher. During two recent Micronesian Chief Executives summits, island leaders have endorsed setting up a campus here, and the Nitijela (parliament) approved $500,000 in its FY 2013 national budget as seed funding for establishing the campus, she said.

Long Island Hotel was inspected last year as a possible campus site, and this assessment was followed by a visit to the hotel by officials from the Properties and Facilities Department at USP in Suva. The USP evaluation verified the earlier assessment and prepared initial recommendations for modifications that will be required to turn the hotel into a school, she said. A cost estimate for renovations required to turn the hotel into a school has not yet been provided.

This is the third major private sector facility to be purchased by government over the past two decades. Previously, the government bought two medium-sized retail store/restaurants, turning one into the office of the Public Service Commission and the other into an elementary school.

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