3 Aug 2006

Fiji tourism operators highlight qoliqoli law benefit

6:32 pm on 3 August 2006

Tourism operators in Fiji say proposed new fishing rights legislation should see indigenous people getting a bigger slice of the tourism pie.

The Hotel and Tourism Association was responding to news that the multi-party cabinet has endorsed the qoliqoli bill, which will hand over control of traditional fishing grounds from the state to indigenous owners.

The association's president, Dixon Seeto, says he's confident that the bill will provide a win win situation for tourism operators and indigenous landowners.

Mr Seeto says a formula for compensating landowners for commercial activity, including marine sanctuaries, is being finalised.

"That would be one of the objectives of any form of lease payment, hopefully it'll trickle down to the landowners and be put to good use. That's one of the government's policies in terms of spreading the benefits of tourism, so that the indigenous people can have a share of the tourism cake."

Mr Seeto says he hopes the bill clearly defines what constitutes a commercial activity, to resolve confusion over fishing rights.

The bill is expected to be tabled in parliament soon.