10 Sep 2003

Fiji hotelier concerned about Iraq deployment

7:44 am on 10 September 2003

A leading Fiji hotelier has warned that the involvement of Fiji troops in Iraq will impact negatively on the country's tourist industry, its biggest source of income.

The managing director of the Shangri-La chain in Fiji and a senior executive of the Fiji Hotel Association, Radike Qereqeretabua, says the deployment could destroy the economic growth expectations of the nation.

Mr Qereqeretabua says with the prevailing mood in Iraq and their fanatical allies, any foreigner coming in even under the United Nations umbrella would be regarded as invaders and result in reprisals against their countries.

He says this is a major threat to Fiji's tourism industry because the country would lose its safe haven status on the world scene.

485 Fiji soldiers will be deployed privately in Iraq by a British company before the end of this month, with the first 115 leaving this weekend.