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Tourism on Rotuma

The following discussion was initiated from postings on a message board beginning in April 1998.


Anonymous [Coolie] (27 April 1998)

While we don't trust tourism in Rotuma, I believe there's a safe way of handling outsiders who want to come to our island and experience its beauty. My best shot is to allow families willing to play hosts the freedom to do so at their own expense. They should also be given the freedom to charge their guests for accommodation if they feel necessary, provided it's legal. Also, there should be a limited number of medically healthy guests allowed per family per year. On the other hand, these families should be held responsible in making sure that their guests abide by the laws and customs of the land.


Anonymous [G.I. Jane] (27 April 1998)

Good idea--all families hosting tourists should have a permit or a license. You never know what these tourists might bring to Rotuma, like drugs, porno, diseases, e.g. AIDS. Some of these tourists will be complete strangers to Rotuma.


Anonymous [TBAG] (28 April 1998)

Hear, hear, I agree. I am not an expert (I have never been to Rotuma) but I have family there and I think it's pretty scary to have 'investors' and the like targeting Rotuma for financial gain. It is definitely a decision for the community as to whether they want to get into this, and if so, it must be on their terms. I would hate to see some unsuspecting person or community get taken for a 'ride'.


Anonymous [suva boy] (28 April 1998)

I think that I have to agree with G.I. jane and say that you can get yourself into a lot of legal/cultural trouble if you make money out of tourism on a family scale.


Posted by Anonymous [Concerned Malhaha] (29 April 1998)

Although I think it will be a very good way of providing an income back home, there really is no foolproof way of going about it. Hence the idea has not been seriously taken up. We all know that no matter how careful one plans in the beginning, once the bucks start rolling in, who is to stop people developing their land for further profit. Also I think we should seriously consider the consequences on society as a whole, i.e. we are pretty strict with our ways and culture and many of the young are already starting to see things differently, and this could a threat to us. Also did any of you think that there might be the possibility of land disputes???? People might start stirring trouble! ( I'm not saying its gonna definitely happen but with a society that is quite close it is a possibility!?) There is also the matter of those things mentioned above, i.e. drugs, etc. because we are part of Fiji. Why don't we have customs inspection at the airport upon arrival, so they can check for this kind of thing? Although in an ideal world I would hate to see the exploitation of our lovely sandy beaches, natural beauty and people, I might be a little biased since I no longer live at home and want it to remain the way I remember it as a little girl. But I have been other places and have seen the effects of tourism. Anyone can put two and two together to come up with the fact that the idea is cool for the bucks and extremely BAD for our environment. After all we don't wanna turn out to be another Caribbean-like hotspot.


Tony Fletcher (6 May 1998)

To the people of Rotuma: My name is Tony Fletcher. I live in the N.W. corner of Arkansas U.S.A. I have been following your people and your island for several years now. I have never been to Rotuma, but have fallen in love with its culture and people. I have read many of your letters. I am writing you now because of your concerns with tourism in your tiny home land. I grew up in a small Ozark town with a population of 600 people. As I grew up I loved the place I lived in because of its natural beauty. Because of the wonders of my native land we now have many thousands of tourists stopping here each year and some are staying. My home is now exploding with unchecked growth. Although growth is good, we now have crimes here every day that may have occurred only once a year when I was a child. I say these things in hopes you will take care not to let tourism ruin your home. We Westerners did much to ruin the world in which you live as well as the world of the Native Americans here where I live. Try not to let this get out of hand. I would like much to come visit your island some day but not at the expense of leading to the end of your culture. For now I will be happy to visit you via internet (cheaper, and cause less impact!) Take care and thank you for letting me voice my opinion. Tony E. Fletcher III Bentonville, AR. U.S.A. <tfletcher@arkansasusa.com>


Henry Enasio (14 August 2004)

I believe approaches have been made to some land owners to build a hotel at Hapmafau. I am interested because I belong to several clans from both my paternal and maternal sides that own the lands stretching from Islepi to Hunsolo at Motusa. Frankly I am supportive of the moves made by cousin Pat Faktaufono and his group and wish them the best in the future.

However, my advice to him is to get the Rotuma Council and the respective clan members on side. The Council controls Rotuma and its members are aware that with globalisation, Rotuma needs to be developed to cater for the needs of the people. The Rotuma Council members are not unreasonable men and women. They see our environment as ever changing, but I believe foremost in their minds is the impact tourism will have on our inheritance and culture.

We need to study and learn from the Fijian experiences to avoid the pitfalls they encountered. We should take a balanced view, including a proactive approach to what's happening in the environment while making sure that our needs for sustenance are being met. Most of all, we need to make sure that we protect those aspects of our culture that we hold most dear.

Thus, one of the first things I'd like to see happen is a feasibility study of the impact of tourism on the people and the island. I'd also like see a meeting held with the people of Denarau to learn of the controls they had in place before any building and tourism is allowed in Rotuma.
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