9 Nov 2007

Tonga hopes to attract tourism investment

4:29 pm on 9 November 2007

The Tongan tourism ministry hopes New Zealand businesspeople will invest in upper class and sustainable accommodation.

The call comes as ten New Zealand-based Pacific Island delegates are on a trade mission to Tonga.

The deputy director of Tonga's tourism ministry, Sione Moala'mafi, says more tourism development is top of the government's agenda, as the kingdom currently offers only 800 beds.

Mr Moala'mafi says while there are a number of guest houses, Tonga wants to widen its market and offer alternative accommodation types.

"If we have 4 or 5 star hotels, one or two of those, then we can attract the whole range [of visitors] and people can move into one segment to the other. If we still target people who respect our culture, who respect our environment, and even the development, it has to be environmentally friendly, like resorts, looking at eco tourism, looking at green tourism."

Mr Moala'mafi says there is a chance for Tonga to learn from mistakes in tourism development made by other Pacific Island nations.