9 Aug 2012

Temaru threatens to leave Tahiti over casino plans

1:11 pm on 9 August 2012

French Polynesia's president Oscar Temaru has spoken out against casino plans, warning that he will move away should one be set up in the territory.

Mr Temaru made the comment to the Nouvelles de Tahiti newspaper amid reports that a casino could help save the Sofitel Maeva Beach Hotel which will close in three months.

He says a hidden force is behind the idea to turn the loss-making hotel into a casino.

The hotel chain's regional director, Thierry de Jaham, said the hotel's losses amounted to more than 13 million US dollars since 2006.

Arrival numbers have fallen sharply since 2000 while taxes and wages as well as energy costs have gone up.

The 40-year old hotel has 105 employees, whose future is yet to be determined as some may find work at other of the chain's hotels.