21 Nov 2006

Tourists held to ransom by Fiji landowners

8:12 am on 21 November 2006

Tourists and hotels in Fiji are being held to ransom in exchange for money over the use of qoliqoli or foreshore areas.

The Fiji Times says the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association has spoken out after receiving reports of an alarming number of ransom cases.

Its chief executive Mereani Korovavala says these incidents have become common after the awareness campaigns on the government's proposed Qoliqoli Bill which will return ownership of the country's foreshores to the descendants of their original owners.

Last week tourists at Tiliva Resort in the Kadavu Group were chased by a group of indigenous Fijians, while diving.

In another incident on the Coral Coast near Sigatoka, a boatful of tourists were held forcefully by claimants of the qoliqoli in exchange for money and personal equipment.

Ms Korovavala says hotel owners have had to pay up a lot of money for the disturbances created by Qoliqoli owners, who are ill-informed about the Bill.