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World class town

Torika Tokalau
Monday, June 24, 2013

LEVUKA Town is now listed as a World Heritage site, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) confirmed on Saturday from Cambodia.

The home of Fiji's old capital joins 754 places around the world, such as the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae in Greece and India's Taj Mahal in the cultural listing of World Heritage sites.

In UNESCOs listing of Levuka as a World Heritage site, it stated: "The town and its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beachfront was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874. It is a rare example of a late colonial port town that was influenced in its development by the indigenous community which continued to outnumber the European settlers. Thus the town, an outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements, reflects the integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power, leading to the emergence of a unique landscape."

According to Minister of National Heritage Filipe Bole, his ministry had put in an application for Levuka to be inscribed as a World Historical site in 2011.

"It is overwhelming, because our application didn't take as long as other applications. Within two and a half years we managed to get Levuka declared," Mr Bole said.

"This will now make it possible for government to preserve the architecture and we can look forward to extension of the benefits not only to the town but also to Ovalau, the schools, hotels and Lomaiviti as a whole."

Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this was a great opportunity for the private sector and inbound operators to work with the National Trust of Fiji, Ministry of National Heritage and his ministry to take full advantage of the listing.

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto expressed excitement at the news.

"It is a great honour to be listed in the world heritage listing which now puts us on the same level as many of iconic areas to visit in the world. This listing puts Fiji more on the world map, even though we already there as a holiday destination, we are now also a place that people would want to visit because they want to visit Levuka, our very own world historical site," Mr Seeto said.





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