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Fiji Time: 6:43 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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Mali visits prompt plans

Serafina Silaitoga
Friday, December 14, 2012

TOURISM may be a new industry to the people of Mali Island in Macuata but they are all prepared to take on new plans and challenges to keep the visitors returning.

The four villages on the island share the responsibility of catering for tourists whenever they visit the island every three months.

Last week, about 30 tourists on board the Captain Cook Cruises' ship Reef Endeavour visited the island for a lovo dinner and entertainment activities.

Nakawaga was the host and the women from the village prepared kava and lovo, and performed meke for the tourists.

Nakawaga Village headman Semi Ulunasobu said the villagers were prepared to take on new plans to better their hosting roles.

"This is the first time for tourists to visit our island so we have been blessed to have them over because it provides another source of income for the villagers," he said.

"Every village has a chance to host.

"But the hosting of tourists is all done in Nakawaga Village because of the ideal location and easier for tourists to travel to the village shoreline from their cruise ship."

"The cruise ship provides all the food to go in the lovo and all we do is make the lovo for the tourists to see."

Mr Ulunasobu said plans of having tourist sites and attractions on the island were being considered.

"We want to give our tourists the best of Mali Island, for them to know about our history, other legends and stories of the island because we feel that is important as well.

"Mali is a big island and there are historic spots in the area so all that can be turned into tourist attractions," he said.

Seeing the income raked in from the past tourist visits to the island, he said it was good for village development.

"We have always had fundraising activities for our village projects and it is not easy doing that considering our location. So it has been quite a struggle although we managed to raise funds for some projects.

"Now having the tourists over to our island will simply means less burden of raising funds as we can rely on tourist funds to assist us with the various projects."

The projects would include footpaths, better sanitation and water facilities.