16 Feb 2006

ADB says Kiribati's Christmas Island has huge tourism potential

2:39 pm on 16 February 2006

A remote Kiribati atoll could become a significant tourist centre if a plan backed by the Asian Development bank succeeds.

Christmas, or Kiritimati, Atoll is earmarked as a Growth Centre by the Kiribati Government as it battles to ease the population pressure on overcrowded Tarawa.

The ADB has loaned Kiribati ten million US dollars largely to develop infrastructure on Kiritimati to allow it to absorb up to four times its current population.

The ADB's Thomas Gloerfelt-Tarp says with cruise ships already calling and weekly flights by Air Pacific, the atoll's tourism potential is significant.

"The potential of the uniqueness in Christmas Island, with for example, one of the largest tern colonies in the Pacific and so on, pristine waters, lots of fish, a lagoon that is absolutely breathtaking, could, with the right development, place Christmas Island as one of the [region's] very attractive destinations."