Support local businesses

OF the 42 backpacker resorts established under the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Government, only 12 remain open today.

This was the claim made by shadow finance minister Aseri Radrodro in Parliament earlier this week during his right of reply to the 2017-2018 National Budget. He claimed that taxes in the tourism industry had resulted in the closure or sale of locally-owned backpacker businesses to overseas investors.

“We understand that from the 42 backpackers opened in Yasawa under the SDL government start up assistance for local business participation, only 12 remain open today,” he said.

“The tax office has effectively closed down the rest of the 30.”

Mr Radrodro said among the backpacker businesses that have been closed or sold to international interests are Coconut Bay Resort on Naviti Island, Otto and Fanny’s in Tavewa and David’s Place, also in Tavewa.

The shadow finance minister called on Government to offer backpacker properties the same incentives given to the sugar industry.

“We need to be supporting our local entrepreneurs. They contribute immensely to our economy through foreign earnings and much needed employment opportunities for our people.

“The Opposition has always pressed for an equitable share of the government assistance for all our people and in this respect we urge Government to consider assisting our backpackers with grants just as they have done to sugar.”

He said if SODELPA was voted into power, it would relook at support incentives and business assistance policies for locally owned businesses.

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