With 15,000 overseas visitors to the capital Nuku’alofa last week, Tonga is at full capacity, and the tourism industry is expanding to accommodate.
The Polynesian state, comprising 177 islands covering about 750 sq km, is home to only 103,000 residents. The government’s Ministry of Tourism has new plans to accommodate for the rise in interest from international visitors by tripling its current budget, expanding the tourism industry and increasing it’s capacity for visitors.
Sione Moala Mafi, an executive at the Ministry of Tourism, says the government has decided that boosting the tourism industry will be the fastest way for Tonga’s economic recovery.
Mr Mafi also says the increase of the budget will be sought through aid donors and foreign investors.
“We are trying to open up the airlinks and even to attract investors. We don’t have to build hotels ourselves. We can attract investors to build it for us. So we are looking at reclaiming some areas in the front harbour of Nuku’alofa and so that will be most appropriate for some of the, say, 5 star hotels to be built.”