12 Jul 2007

Push to set up eco-tourism in Marshall Islands outer islands

2:00 pm on 12 July 2007

There is a push to set up eco-tourism in the outer islands of the Marshall Islands to attract greater numbers of visitors.

The proposal is being backed by the Bank of Marshall Islands which is also introducing a micro-loan scheme and village banking services to the outer islands.

The bank's CEO, Patrick Chen, says people in remote villages don't have very many opportunities so they've appointed representatives on some of the outer islands to help kick-start small businesses and provide financial services.

Mr Chen says eco-tourism is a concept that may take some time to get off the ground but it could attract people to the villages.

"It will involve the community. They can start to do the clean-up of their village. We can help them use the local material , build up some kind of cottage hotel so people can go there, like for weekends, and we can also attract the foreign tourists coming to the outer islands, too."

Mr Chen says there is already a move to promote eco-tourism on Arno where a cottage type of hotel is being built.