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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. <>

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.

Selina in Perth, Australia (7 April, 2009)

My family owns land in Rotuma stretching from Hapmafau to Motusa, where the old Burns Philip general store used to be in the late 60s to early 70s if my memory is correct. We have had our land surveyed and pegged and I have possession of the documentation. I haven't been back to the island for over 15 years now and am planning to visit again.

I understand that there has been talk of a hotel being build at Hapmafau but that seems to have faded.

We are planning to establish a very small scale "holiday getaway" based on a more selective customer base (this is being managed and controlled in Australia). We will be visiting the island to ensure that we know the lay of the land and to consult our elders.

I am interested in your feedback and your thoughts.

From H. F. Thompson (15 April 2009)

Why is it not that surprising that it’s always the Rotuman Tourists who come up with schemes to exploit the land in the one place on God’s Green Earth that we, Real Rotumans, are very proud to call home away from home. I would like to be able to take my family to visit my homeland and not be bombarded by tourists just because some greedy Rotuman who lives in some adopted country decided that life on this paradise island should be changed for the Mighty Dollar. I am just amazed at all the schemes and plans being hatched all over the world by Rotuman Tourists to exploit and bring chaos and crime to our homeland where we can go and visit and not have to worry about anything.

Ask yourselves, Rotumans:

  • Why did we—each individual family and clan—inherit our land from our forefathers?
  • Why did we have so much and nowadays claim to have so little?
  • Why are we the luckiest people on this earth?

Unless you all understand the reasons why we Rotumans are the descendants and inheritors of that beautiful paradise, we will all be sorry and regret our decisions and actions. It will be like opening Pandoras Box.

My advice to Rotumans overseas: live your lives and be happy. If you have too much money to spend, think about the hospital and the schools on the island. You can never spend enough money when it comes to updating equipment and other technological items in these most important places. The hospital saves lives and the schools produce the future generations who understand the land better and protect the island from outsiders.

My family has a lot of land and I have lived overseas for most of my life. I have no desire to have a bunch of people who don’t understand the way of the land turn serenity into chaos. My hope is that Rotumans are wise and will protect and preserve the land for future generations. There is no such thing as "small scale" or "safe" tourism advocated by Rotumans who live overseas. NO TO TOURISM.

Response to H.F. Thompson by Selina in Perth (16 April 2009)

Thank you for your response.

The tone of your posting is nothing but friendly I sense.

You said your family has a lot of land in Rotuma. I am curious to know where your family owns land in Rotuma. If someone wants to build on their rightfully owned land on the island, whether it be residential or for business, then really there is nothing anyone can do; am I correct to say that? I haven't lived all my life overseas; I went to school in Rotuma, grew up there until I was in my early teens, then moved to Australia. I speak Rotuman fluently and will retire in Rotuma.

It is rather sad that when the topic of tourism is brought up it raises a can of worms.

H. F. Thompson, once again thank you for your feedback and have taken your points of concern onboard.

Selina (Suakma'asa) Perth

Rejoinder from H. F. Thompson (18 April 2009)

Noa'ia Selina,

'Otou kaunohoagta noh 'e Maragte'u, Noa' tau, Rotuma. Gou noh 'e Mereke 'e on 'i'i, ka gou 'inea se ma la faeag Rotuam. Gou la' se rako 'e Paptea, Malhaha, ma rak 'e Fiti.

You are correct Selina. Your land, your business. How big is the island?

I am, what you call "Old School". I grew up watching and learning how my father and family worked and lived off of the land. Family, neighbors, community and district working TOGETHER through good times and bad. Everything we do should always be for the good of the people and "country." People's lives were very dependent on the land and sea.

During those times there was always an abundance of everything because people worked hard. Those were the very best times of my growing up years.

In today's generation there is never enough." Its a new, scary and very different world.
I live overseas, but I always love my homeland. I am a Rotuman, and will always be, no matter where I am.

P.S. Usually I would not respond because I have said what I need to say, but I want to thank you, Selina, for writing back.

Faiaksia ma hanisiof.

Response from Henry Enasio (25 May 2009)

In August 2004, I waded into the discussion about tourism on Rotuma and put in my penny’s worth.

I am glad that Selina has revived the discussion and is contemplating to establish a very small scale get-away hotel at the end of the year.

Basically it is a very good idea and the timing is ideal, given that Rotuma is now an international port of entry, that Pacific Sun planned regular flights to Rotuma going all the way to Tuvalu and Kiribati, that monthly visits will be made by MV Niuvaga enroute to Tuvalu with Rotuman taro, cassava and sweet potatoes and the significant development plans for the island over the next two years. There are bound to be tourists visiting the island in addition to Selina’s select clientele.

There’s been talk of home-based tourism, but according to my calculation the venture is full of flaws and can be very costly. The initial capital investment required to upgrade existing homes to an acceptable level for tourists, including remedial work for kitchens, bathroom/toilets and fly and mosquito proofing the doors and windows would be considerable. Besides, there are the ongoing costs of providing three meals a day, clean linens, as well as the auxiliary costs associated with the normal running of a household. Anyone who has ever stayed at a hotel will understand what I mean when I say that tourists don’t eat reheated or left over meals, hence the extra cost and work involved.
Indeed a lot of money will be required to do all of the above. Perhaps those contemplating home-based tourism will do their sums before they leap. Then they be wary of those advocating such a venture.

Thus I’d suggest that Selina’s plan is the way to go, but if it is any comfort to her I can relate what happened to the hotel mooted above.

The Council gave its blessing but left the matter to the investors and land owners to deal with the ensuing issues.

Fiji Unit Trust and Marriott Hotels wanted to build a hotel with an eighteen hole golf course at Hapmafau, which would require 15 acres of prime land. Their plan was to build the hotel and upgrade the infrastructures in Rotuma, including the airport, the hospital, roads, wharf, water supply, the Motusa District School and the village utilities next to the planned hotel before they start to bring the tourists in. Their target market for the proposed hotel was rich Marriott clients who just want to get away to a relaxing holiday far from the maddening crowd on a secluded white sandy beach to enjoy a swim, a snorkel and play a bit of golf before returning home. Money was not an issue with these cash-rich investors.

I was privileged to this information from Dr Peter Mario with whom I spoke several times. I also received copies of the minutes of earlier Council meetings. But a reluctant member of the chiefly Farsau clan objected to the plan.

Along with a doctoral student researcher from NZ who had consulted with Dr Mario, I met with this particular clan member who stood in the way of progress, employment, the development of Rotuma, and the livelihood of the majority of the clan members (who voted yes for the hotel) as well as future generations to come.

The reason for her objection was basically the same old narrow-minded view of a traditional lay preacher—worried that tourism would erode our fundamental values, tradition and culture. However, Rotuma has long been influenced by videos, radio, Pacific Sky TV and by islanders who have traveled overseas. Although tourists may wear revealing clothing, have decorated belly buttons and weird hairdos, our own young girls in Rotuma have adopted those trends without harm.
The other objection given by this woman was that her family planned to build a brick house there, which I doubted very much. Why does a family of two need a second house?

We weren’t able to persuade this woman, so I spoke to the elders of the clan who were happy with the planned hotel and the perceived benefits, but they were unwilling to pursue the matter in accordance with our customary laws and the provisions of the Rotuma Lands Act requiring consensus.

I then wrote and advised Dr Mario with the options to:

  1. Build the hotel at the Islepi accretion without the golf course
  2. Build the hotel with a bypass over the objected land at Hapmafau
  3. Build the hotel at a different location like Kogai overlooking Hamafau bay or
  4. Do not proceed at all in view of the fast approaching time frame stipulated by the partnership.

I included a special note advising that any member of that clan who left the matter as is, and in particular the family that raised the objections, not be hired.

For I sincerely believe that if the hotel had gone ahead, Rotuma would not be in such a predicament with the current air travel. Furthermore, the benefits would have been massive for the residents of Motusa and for Rotuma as whole if the hotel was built.

With most land in Rotuma owned by a clan, access is an issue to be mindful of. I hope that Selina will take note and can avoid the pitfalls and hassles that may delay her planned project. For I want Selina to have a go and to succeed; thus this response.

Henry Enasio

Response to Henry Enasio by Gloria Eno (28 May 2009)

To the people of Rotuma: My name is Gloria Eno. I am 18 years old and live in New Zealand. My mother is Rotuman. She comes from Lopta and I have been to Rotuma many times as a child and teenager.

I can't give you a view of growing up on Rotuma or living life the way Rotumans like. My mother did but I can honestly tell you I envy my mother's childhood on Rotuma and I can only hope when I have children they will experience some of the Rotuma that I have. My mum has told me and my brother so many stories. Opening Rotuma to tourism, money, corruption and greed could mean the Rotuma we all know and love may one day cease to exist.

Rotuma is everything to me. It’s a place in the world that I can go to get away from everything that I despise overseas. Rotuma is very special and unique in so many ways. I didn’t grow up with many island kids, and all of my friends who have listened to endless stories about Rotuma tell me how lucky I am to have a place like that in the world--a place where my children and grandchildren can go to see the simple beautiful things in life and be taught true Rotuman values and traditions, and they can learn more about living than kids who only know the modern world.

Henry Enasio refers to a narrow minded view. Well, in my opinion the youth of Rotuma are not influenced a fraction of the extent they could be by movies, music etc. I am a western teenager; I know, without a single doubt in my mind, that when and if Rotuman teens are exposed to the views, opinions, pressure and influences that western teenagers are you will know about it.

I know from first-hand experience what overseas teenagers are like, and I am sad to think that this could one day be what Rotuman kids will act like. If the western world were allowed full access to Rotuma this would be inevitable, and I am shocked some people don’t see this! I am friends with many Rotuman teenagers and the girls I have met on the island are nothing like overseas girls. They have respect for themselves and their family, discipline, and motivation to achieve and educate themselves. They work hard at all things and are not shallow-minded or worried by stupid things like $200 hair styles and $500 handbags. So I say thank you to the "reluctant member of the chiefly Farsau clan." I and the people of Rotuma owe you the world and I am so happy you realised the harm this decision would cause, even if others do not.

Rotuma made me who I am today. Spending time there while growing up taught me to be grateful for what I have and that money definitely can not buy you happiness, that you can never be too busy to be kind to people, that there's no enjoyment in having things if you can't share them and take time to breathe, talk and laugh. Most of all, Rotuma taught me about love--to love your family and your friends and be grateful for the time you have together. I fear that these values will change as more money and tourists come to Rotuma. If more money means that Rotuma will become more like overseas countries, then I hope Rotuma never says yes to tourism. I only hope future generations will learn what I have from Rotuma, and that they will have a place they can go to that is unlike any other. I truly believe Rotuma has this power to help you overcome troubles or sad times; its like Rotuma can heal your soul and I hope that it never loses that magic.

I enjoy modern conveniences as much as the next person and I enjoy staying in hotels, but I would be sad to see one on Rotuma. I look at Rotuma Island as a way my paradise, even though it may sound selfish; I don’t want to share it with strangers. Not all tourists are bad of course! But how will we protect our island from the ones who are? It only takes a few minutes to think about what tourism and too many westerners have done to other places. I'm sure they, too, may have been paradises once upon a time, but with one bad move everything can change. Some tourists, when visiting Rotuma, will love and respect it for being so different and unspoiled, but others will see it only as an experience they have paid for. Those who see Rotuma in this way won't understand our ties to the land, or our respect for our ancestors who fought so hard to make Rotuma what it is. Our history lies in every single square metre of land. They will not honour the beliefs and traditions that our people have been taught since the beginning of time. And last but not least, they will not appreciate our simple love for each other and for our home.

Does anyone think the Aborigines are happy that their land and rights are gone and they are treated so horribly in their own homeland? Maori people in New Zealand are fighting every day for the right to have a say in their own country. I could go on and on about native people in their own countries who now suffer because their ancestors were momentarily blinded by money and the hope for a better, easier life, which turned out to cause pain, loss and suffering. Don't get me wrong. I understand that Rotumans wish to better their standard of living, and that they need money to do so. Yes, money will buy new things and can make life just that little bit easier, but will it be worth it in the long run? To risk losing your beautiful home for the chance that maybe you could live a little better? You don’t want to turn around one day and wonder where the Rotuma you used to know has gone, because by then it will be too late to get it back and our once isolated paradise will be just another resort island in the Pacific.

Gloria Eno

Henry Enasio's response to Gloria Eno (31 May 2009)

Surely in this information age there must be a lot of Rotumans who regularly access this website, not only to read but to enter into meaningful dialogues with different viewpoints. Hopefully we will be able to learn from each other.

In her recent contribution to the discussion of tourism in Rotuma, Gloria Eno wrote that she has been to Rotuma many times as a child and teenager and, I assume, is able to find love and comfort there (like many of us).

Perhaps Gloria would enlighten me as to when she last visited the island. I hope that it wasn't during the Christmas holidays, which might have shrouded her perception regarding the apparent abundance of food on the island. This abundance is short lived, lasting for about three weeks, whilst the islanders' struggle during the rest of the year to make ends meet.

I was born and brought up in Motusa, but now live at Ahau. I have regularly traversed to and fro from Motusa to attend functions, including village and district meetings. I participate in community activities for the school, road construction and various cemetery cleanups, and the Laje cleanups. I shop there and visit family and friends, and have seen the hardship and struggles of the Motusans.
Indeed Motusa has never recovered from the demise of Burns Philp and Morris Hedstrom Ltd. The situation was exacerbated by the closures of the Planters, RCA, the many various family outlets, and by the recent closure of the Mobil Oil depot. Hence Motusa is often referred to and stigmatised as a ghost town.

The proposed hotel by Marriot and the Fiji Unit Trust at Hapmafau would have gone a long way to address the hardships experienced in Motusa. It would not only have helped struggling families and future generations of Motusans, but the planned upgrade of the island's infrastructure would have been beneficial to all. But thanks to one objector these promises did not come to fruition and the consequences will reverberate for years to come.

Indeed I did say "the same old narrow-minded view of a traditional lay preacher" which I expand upon below. Meanwhile let me make these points:

  1. that the Council, which is the paramount authority on the island, saw no problem with tourism on Rotuma and gave its approval and blessing for the proposal. They have already had first hand knowledge of tourism on Rotuma from their experiences with the Fairstar. Also, all of the Council members have traveled to Fiji where they have stayed in hotels and have seen and met tourists.
  2. that the Council delved into the pros and cons of the hotel and was farsighted enough to realise that the proposed benefits far outweighed the negatives; hence their approval and blessing.
  3. that Dr Mario, who specialises on the impact of globalisation on financial services, would not have mooted the idea without giving it a lot of thought, holding discussions with investors and knowing the impact on the community at large.
  4. that neither the Chief of Itu'ti'u District nor the heads of the six denominations in Motusa objected to the proposal, for they were able to envisage the benefits, too. I'd expect that if there's any perceived evils emanating from tourism on Rotuma that outweighs the benefits, then these guardians of our tradition and morals would be the first to object, but they didn't, except for the one objector.
  5. that the members of the other three land owning units at Motusa gave their approval and support to the proposal. Only the objector, from the four clan, hijacked the wishes of the majority.
  6. that if Gloria were to read the Rotuma Lands Act, she'd learn that it clearly stipulates that any decision in relation to clan land must be by majority consensus of the adult members (aged over twenty one) resident in Rotuma. Accordingly a single vote cannot summarily decide for all the members. Thus the problem and the anger amongst the majority of clan members. Unfortunately they weren't aware of the recourse open to them by which they could have addressed their grievance, and the proposed time frame quickly dissipated.

Regarding my allusion to "the same old narrow-minded view of a traditional lay preacher." Well, I have already stated above that the traditional and moral guardians saw no problem with the proposed hotel.

  1. So how can an objector assert that the hotel will erode our fundamental values, traditions and culture? Surely those guardians knew better than her.
  2. I've also previously stated that modern influences have already affected most of the islanders' daily lives in the way our young girls garb themselves with midriffs, bare backs, makeup, etc. that look very trendy and quite beautiful on many of them. This has been a gradual metamorphosis as more DVDs are viewed at homes and as islanders return from Fiji and overseas.
  3. Also it's easy for the objector when her family is being well looked after and she is paid by the community whilst most struggle to make ends meet and pay for their children's bus fare to school, let alone the school fees.
  4. Furthermore, if I did not know the couple's past, nor see what's in their house for entertainment, then I'd believe that their concern was genuine. An objection based on practice what you preach would be more convincing, but it reeks of hypocrisy when one does not walk the talk; thus statement above.

For Gloria's info, most of my siblings have lived overseas in England, the US, NZ and Australia, and my immediate family in Australia. Thus I had the opportunity to live and travel in those countries and in Canada and Europe, but have yet to see and read about these countries being drastically influenced to their detriment by tourism.

Not all tourists are bad. Most are good, decent people. But like most things, there are the good and the bad. That's why we have our Council and traditional hierarchical leaders, besides the Government, to enforce our traditions and laws.

Perhaps Gloria may had seen, read or heard about an isolated incident that formed her opinion of tourism on Rotuma. But that does not necessarily mean, as Gloria says, that "Opening Rotuma to tourism, money, corruption and greed could mean the Rotuma we all know and love may one day cease to exist".

I have sons, nephews and nieces of Gloria's age and a little older and am well aware of "what overseas teenagers are like." But let me say this: many of our young people in the island are not backward and are comparable to those Gloria alludes to. For with the explosion of information technology and the travels of our youth to Fiji and overseas, they are well versed in the latest trends, dress codes, ipods, mobile phones, dance moves, parties etc., although on a relatively smaller scale. The tradition I knew when I was at Gloria's age is different from that in use today, for our tradition has evolved to embrace changes that come with contemporary times.

Gloria makes reference to the Maoris and the Australian Aborigines, who lost most of their land to colonial rulers. However, most of the land was lost by way of wars and treaties. Only a small percentage was lost because "their ancestors were momentarily blinded by money and the hope for a better, easier life, which turned out to cause pain, loss and suffering." Contrary to Gloria's assertion, hoteliers either lease land or buy freehold properties to build on.

Notwithstanding any thing I have said above, may I suggest for Gloria's peace of mind that she read The Rotuma Lands Act, especially the section relating to dealings. For since the Act's passage in 1959, sale of Rotuman land to a non-Rotuman is prohibited. This precludes any notion that our lands will be sold to prospecting hoteliers "for a better, easier life." Land for hotels can only be leased.

Bearing in mind Maslow's theory of self-actualisation, it's inconsiderate to ignore the majority's opinion, for they have actual and perceived needs that they aspire to fulfill.

Henry Enasio

From Selina Suakma'asa in Perth (7 June 2009)

Response to Henry Enasio and Gloria Eno

Henry, I thank you for your response to my plans for establishing a “getaway holiday” in Rotuma.

I am not privy to what occurred with the hotel plans in Rotuma—you seem to have access to good sources of information on these things and I thank you for sharing this. My thoughts are that people fear the unknown. I can understand why people on the island were very reluctant to accept the idea of building a hotel. For various reasons, tourism in Rotuma has never been well accepted. Perhaps it is an educational thing—these things need time. People need to be convinced of the benefits of having something of this nature. Maybe the approach to the community is wrong? Who knows…. I am all for moving forward but I am sure that if dealt correctly we may have some success in the end.

As for the “getaway holiday plan,” this is a five-year project for us—a B&B style to be built on our land at Islepi are our initial thoughts, but more importantly, a family home for my elderly mother to live in where she is safe and comfortable. This would be a home for families, relatives and friends who want to visit the island. By speaking to a few people who have recently returned from the island, I understand that water and electricity are potential problems, just to name two. I also know that the island has opened up business connections with Kiribati, which is a wonderful way of moving forward. Like any type of business, this could bring in an enormous amount of money, but we want to do our own feasibility study first.

Gloria, thank you for sharing your views and concerns on tourism. Tourism can be good if handled the right way. You are correct we are very blessed to have a paradise that we Rotumans call home and you are privileged to have spent time in Rotuma. So I can understand your very passionate views about tourism. I have two teenagers, 18, and 16 year olds. I am dealing with their teenage issues but having said that, I am also blessed that they are very good kids. They have respect for their elders, they have a safe home and they are not doing drugs. In 2008 my daughter experienced the deaths of three students who were in her year 12 class. This was the result of a car accident. You are correct that many teenagers who are raised overseas these days are very spoilt, but not all of them are. I do like the idea that I take them back to the island to have a reality check and not take life for granted.

Foiaksia ma hanisiof
Selina (Suakma'asa) Perth

From Pasirio Kitione in Nadera (9 June 2009)

May Rotuma be protected from 5 star international hotel brands,
18 hole golf courses and mass tourism forever
So there is no stench with the sea breeze at the turn of the tide
That there is no excess seaweed on the beaches and in place of once thriving coral colonies
So that there is no 24 hour room service and work on Sundays

May the bounty from the sea and harvest from the land be fresh, abundant and toxic free
May the occasional lobster be shared by family and not sold to the hotel
Alas, thus a can of Koro Sea will suffice for dinner
That there is no power house with a set of generators
Nor are the effluents from hotel operations recycled, carted and dumped. Where?

May future generations be proud and thankful for the wise decisions made yesterday
To preserve and protect
So that their culture and traditions be their identity
Of which they are proud to practice and know completely

May the dreams and aspirations of a teenager from Invercargill live on
That our leaders and elders find alternative green means for business
So villages, forlorn and trying, can thrive once more
May traditional respect and trust be ever strong influences and values
So that a way of life and a ‘gem of green’ be forever preserved
For all Rotumans

From Carl Gilsenan in Sydney (13 June 2009)

My name is Carl Gilsenan. I have been following with great interest the ongoing debate about tourism in Rotuma and thought I may have something of value to add in response to Henry. I think it is also important in these discussions to steer away from applying the values of good and evil, and all their possible connotations, and try to concentrate on what is of most benefit to Rotuma and her people.
My personal bias is towards no tourism or small scale, home stay style tourist operations. This bias is informed by my experiences of travelling all over the world and seeing the negative and positive impacts of tourism. It is also influenced by three ideas.

  1. Sustainable development, which for me means that proposed developments are socially and culturally appropriate and are well suited to the local ecology; that they build on previous ideas, experience and local “know how” and are low tech enough or at least compatible with local people’s ability to service them once they are up and running, so that they require little to no outside intervention for their ongoing success. Among the questions that need to be asked: does everybody have the opportunity to participate  and does it benefit everybody on Rotuma, ie. is what is good for Motusa truly good for the rest of Rotuma, or do the benefits stop with the immediate landowners? I think if these ideas and questions are not taken into consideration, any form of development is doomed to fail. We only need to look at Rotuma’s history of business startups and their demise to learn from past mistakes.
  2. Self-protectionism, which is a bit of a dirty concept in our modern world of free trade and mass information. However, I think that there are qualities that are unique to Rotuma that are worth protecting. Aside from the local ecology, the culture and many other things, there is something else less tangible that I feel is in danger of becoming extinct with the advent of “development.” I’m not sure whether I can describe it exactly, but it is one of the qualities for which a lot of us in the western, modern world, escape to in Rotuma. The sense of timelessness; of being grounded in nature; connection to our kin and community. These and many other qualities which I do not have the words to describe have been lost in our modern world, These are qualities that exist in Rotuma and I believe are worth protecting and fostering.
  3. Unintended consequences. No doubt there will be benefits that ensue from the hotel-style development that was proposed and no one can deny that many Rotumans will benefit greatly from them. However, there will be consequences on the negative side of the ledger that must be taken into consideration and others, not even the Council could predict, that Rotumans will have to live with. Here are a few that I can think of—what will happen to the waste generated by a hotel? I believe Rotuma will have a major problem on its hands in the future with waste disposal and the leaching of  poisonous compounds, specifically from tin and plastic, into our groundwater.

It will be very difficult for the Council to say no to other villages desire for hotels. Why cant Itu‘muta have its own Sheraton, Pepjei its Hilton and Oinafa its very own Shangri-la?

A personal experience I had with unintended consequences happened in 2005 after not going back to Rotuma for a few years. With the advent of generators in all villages and subsequent electrification, I noticed a proliferation of TVs that were not present four years previous. With these TVs I noticed a decline in social interaction at night. Instead I saw people gathering around the glowing box to watch movies. I had fond memories of sitting around in the dark talking and joking with other people in the village, participating in an activity that helps to strengthen the ties that bind us. This seemed sadly in decline. Now I would be last person to say that electricity is a bad thing for Rotuma, but who would of thought that this development would contribute to a decline in social interaction. 

I am not against development. I think it is a normal and healthy want for any group of people to better themselves through development of themselves or there resources. However, I think we need to be careful that we are not tying ourselves to western models and indicators of development and all the consequences that come with this. Instead Rotuma should seek a form of development that is appropriate to its unique position, through the prism of its own models and indicators.
I believe that to only be critical of an idea is not very helpful to everybody involved. Offering viable alternatives is important. Here are a few ideas viewed through the prism of sustainable development that I have thought of, most of which, I am sure, have been thought of before.

a) A biodiesel production unit that will process coconut oil from copra into biodiesel. This will stop the wasteful shipping of copra off of Rotuma and also will well and truly satisfy all of Rotuma’s fuel needs. It will also utilise the current electrical and copra production infrastructure.

b) Small scale agroforestry, to supply high quality wood to high end users, ie. instrument makers, fine furniture makers. I have already started to plant mahogany on family land and have encouraged cousins to do the same.

c) Manufacture of botanical extracts. John Bennett already successfully extracts hefau oil, which commands a high price on the world market.

d) Sustainable harvesting of sea life for hotels in Fiji.

e)  Grow crops for sale to offshore markets, eg. Tuvalu.

I have written mostly about development in this essay as I believe that the discussion about tourism is a discussion about ways of encouraging development on Rotuma. Development and the changes that it brings can be widespread and far reaching. Therefore, erring on the side of caution is an important tool in careful decision-making. I personally quite like the approach of certain American Indian tribes to major decision-making that affects all in the community—what will be the effects of our decision on our people seven generations into the future? Will our children’s, children benefit from this decision?

Faiaksia ma hansiof.
Carl Gilsenan

More from Henry Enasio (18 July 2009)

I am overwhelmed by the responses to my postings on this issue, but can categorically say that some of them are factually incorrect. They are based on speculation, unfounded fear, ignorance of opportunities lost, etc.

Perhaps if I briefly cover some of these issues and revisit the pertinent points from my previous postings I may be able to enlighten the opponents of tourism in Rotuma.


Speculation is based on assumptions that are unsubstantiated. The fact is no one knows what the future holds, except for God. And I don’t believe that anyone can claim to know whether tourism will spoil Rotuma without first giving it a trial. If the trial doesn’t work, then believe me, the clan members will reconsider the issue. For nothing is set in concrete and whatever is done can be amended or adjusted. But to reject tourism outright, without any basis other than speculation, is unwarranted and ignores the majority view of the clan members.

That tourism would be bad for Rotuma is only speculation because no one knows what the future holds. And we’ll never know unless we try it out and gain some first-hand experience. To base opinions on generalisations and hearsay without the basic ingredient of first-hand experience is pointless rhetoric.

Unfounded fear

The apprehension that the beauty and the pristine environment of Rotuma, along with our culture, will be spoiled is unfounded and based on pure speculation. There is also the implied ulterior motive that the island should be maintained as a personal retreat for non-residents to get away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.

Opponents of tourism have underestimated the will and farsightedness of most of the landowners at Motusa. They imply that the landowners would not do the right thing by all of us and would fail to look before they leap--that they would sell us out as soon as the carrot is dangled in front of them. But unbeknownst to the opponents of tourism, the landowners had agreed to seek legal opinions first. They also agreed to stipulate certain conditions for the hotel and their guests to abide by, with the goal of augmenting our culture and traditions, as well as preserving the beauty and the pristine ecology of the island. For many of these landowners are traditionalists and are very concerned about any deviation from Rotuman custom.

And should the majority landowners’ plan fail, there’s always the Council, the Rotuma Act, the Rotuma Lands Act and our customary laws to put a check on unwanted and detrimental behaviours that would erode our culture and spoil the island.

Disregard for the Norm

Both our customary laws and the Rotuma Lands Act dictate that decisions on land issues be by majority consensus. Unfortunately many don’t know this or, contrary to the norm, they wouldn’t allow a minority to thwart the majority consensus.

But thanks to continued education, we on the island are beginning to wise up to such unwelcome bias and the bulldozing tactics of the minority. Furthermore, it is my ardent belief that should a similar proposal be flagged again in the future, opposition to it will not rest at the clan level but with the courts, who can be expected to vindicate the majority consensus.

I say this without a doubt, given what transpired between the Matamemea clan and Vodafone Fiji where common sense prevailed, and one member could not decide on behalf of the majority how clan land would be used.

Ignorance to Opportunities Lost

In the past, we in Rotuma could only dream of what might be. But with globalisation and the proliferation of videos, we are able to vividly see how our lives might be improved. What were once luxuries have become necessities. We have also come to expect better services that only come with a better infrastructure. An infrastructure that would include a sewerage treatment plant for the proposed hotel was not only lost to the Motusans but to the whole of Rotuma as a consequence of that single objection.

I’ve maintained all along that the effect of this objection will reverberate for years to come on the opportunities lost for employment and an improved infrastructure. That’s why the media highlighted Chief Maraf’s request for the Government to conduct a session on how to combat poverty in Rotuma.
So may I ask what will this objector and the opponents of tourism in Rotuma give in return for these losses?

Lack of Financial Resources to Fund Alternatives

Certainly the imminent export of root crops to Tuvalu is an excellent idea and will go a long way to help the islanders, with the potential to increase their earnings. By how much is difficult to forecast due to unknown factors associated with cost.

Access to funding is difficult for the majority in the island due to lack of collateral and the fact that an unscrupulous few have spoiled the chances for most of the islanders. They’ve defaulted on their loans, giving us a bad name and making it difficult to be given one from the Fiji Development Bank.
Surely many of us are aware of the demise of the National Bank of Fiji. And if anyone has had the chance to read the Pacific Island Magazine’s coverage of the bank’s debacle immediately after its demise, one would have seen the list of the past and present business people in Rotuma who owed the bank $3.5 million.

Furthermore, some of these business operators in Rotuma (and they know who they are) are not necessarily operating the same venture that they were in when borrowing from NBF, but they have used the same tactics with the FDB. The FDB is the only bank that most islanders rely on to be considered for a loan. But these operators defaulted and shirked their responsibilities to repay their loans, which amounted to around $120K, resulting in bad debts and the banishment of a Rotuman bank manager. Also other ventures, such as fish and lobster fishing, coconut oil processing, and coconut drying in Rotuma have failed, which makes the bank even more wary.

I’ve mentioned these to highlight the difficulty in obtaining a loan nowadays to upgrade a house for homestay tourism. Since the average income is approximately $500 per annum, and most of the land in Rotuma is clan land, it’s very difficult to use houses as collateral.

I have been inside and seen most of the houses on the island. When homestay tourism was first mooted I did the sums on a standard upgrade. These included the material (for the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, tiles, doors and window screens, paint, nails, etc) freight, transport, labour, the meals and grog involved in the construction and the overheads for food, laundry, toiletries, and can safely state that homestay tourism will incur thousands of dollars in debt. A break even in cost will take years, let alone the hope of making a profit to repay any loans involved.

That’s why I was very vocal in our district meetings for the locals to be wary and to do their sums first before they commit. For the costs involved are massive, as much as $20K. Such an amount is beyond most of the islanders’ means, unless of course external sources with money to spend is received. Of course no one has that type of money to spend other than the banks.Furthermore proponents of homestay tourism in Fiji want a twenty percent commission up front, leaving the operators very little to cover expenses.

Hence I have no doubt that homestay tourism is not a viable option, given the calculations I had made unless easy access to funding is available. But bear in mind the the history of unpaid loans mentioned above that precludes most islanders from getting a loan from the Fiji Development Bank.

Because of these problems, our district’s motion was carried in Council to indefinitely defer homestay tourism until the resourcing and the commission issues are resolved. But understand this--in no way have these issues precluded the possibility of homestay tourism in Rotuma; they have simply sent the matter back to the drawing board for reevaluation.

Response from Gloria Eno (20 July 2009)

First I would like to thank Henry and all the others for their feedback on my posting; your views and opinions are much appreciated and Henry your information has made me aware of some things I did not know before.

In response to Henrys enquire as to when my time on Rotuma has been spent:
Rotuma trip 1: 1996 Feb-May
Rotuma trip 2: 1998 August-November
Rotuma trip 3: 2001 November-February
Rotuma trip 4: 2004 April-July
Rotuma trip 5: 2006 April-July
Rotuma trip 6: 2007 November-January
So as you can see I have actually experienced Rotuma in an array or months, seasons, times and years. Also while visiting during school terms I attended Rotuma High school.

I have met struggling families and some that don’t struggle as much, big houses, small houses, the shops when they are full and when they are empty. As I stated in my last posting I can not give you a view of someone that grew up on Rotuma but as Henry failed to understand I write my feelings and views from a NZ born half-Rotuman half-Kiwi teenager and I don’t expect to change or manipulate the decisions of others. I just wish to write how I feel and what I see and think about Rotuma and tourism.

I find it frustrating that people are wanting to make decisions for Rotuma when the sad truth is they won't even be around to witness the full impact of their decisions.

To say tourism might be okay on Rotuma and to admit we would only realise the true effects in the future is selfish and inconsiderate of the Rotuman youth of today.

Who will be around in the future to witness the real outcome of tourism if it is allowed on Rotuma? Not the people making the decision today but the youth of the island who will be left with the burden of a tainted home. I'm not saying it’s a definite outcome but if it does go horribly wrong only time will tell and the people who decided this fate for our beautiful island paradise will have long passed on, leaving us youth with an irreversible problem.

So I say, people think about your children, your youth, our future. And ask yourself, will you risk their home? Their life? Their roots? For what? To have these once luxuries now apparent necessities? No, you won't, and why? Because like me, you have faith in the Rotuman race and its people. We have survived this long by ourselves without resorts, backpackers, B&Bs, motels, hotels, etc. and we will carry on surviving long into the future. Our ancestors, our beliefs, our traditions, our land that was gifted to us by God himself, hard working Rotuman people, loyal and sharing family and friends, will get us through. All we need is people to see that and have faith in Rotuma.

I also would like to thank Carl Gilsenan for his factual input on the discussion and I fully agree with what he has said. It is great to see someone who shares this love and care for Rotuma and its people.

From Henry Ensasio (19 August 2009)

I want to thank Gloria for the details of her trips to Rotuma.

However, we must not forget that our customs dictate that decisions regarding the lands in Rotuma are by majority rule and the authority of the Council. Therefore we must not allow the minority to usurp authority over the majority consensus, as was the case with the land owners when a hotel was proposed at Motusa. This is a fact that’s been totally ignored by the opponents of tourism in Rotuma.

I have been harping about the lost opportunities of employment and infrastructure that will reverberate over many years. I have no doubt that the consequences will be widely felt by those of us who live on the island. What will the opponents of tourism give in return for those lost opportunities?

There are many possible cottage industries on Rotuma: fishing, sea weed, vanilla, turmeric, root crops, beef, pig farming, copra, coconut oil, desiccated coconut juice production, ice, ice cream, water bottling etc. Many of us on the island would like to venture into some of these industries but cannot for lack of money and the difficulty of getting a loan to fund such a business.

It’s easier said then done. If only Carl knew this, and about the fiasco behind the Fiji Development Bank, which has virtually precluded islanders from getting a loan, I am sure he’d have thought twice before citing such costly alternatives.

From Gloria Eno (20 August 2009)

I think the most costly alternative would be losing our home, our island, and our paradise, don’t you?

The fact that Rotuma is our most valuable asset is something that I hope all Rotumans realise. Rotuma's isolation, beauty and uniqueness is rare and precious, and we could lose all that.

Do you think that once you have handed over your land to foreigners it will give you the opportunity and funds to explore more costly alternatives?

Well, I wonder how long it would take one of the tourists staying at the Rotuma Hilton, who already has the funds, to buy land to establish their own fishing, seaweed, vanilla, turmeric, root crops, beef, pig farming, copra, coconut oil, desiccated coconut juice production, ice, ice cream, or water bottling company. And who is to say we won't give in again, especially if they are offering money with which we can have these once luxuries that are now apparent necessities? By giving into tourism you may get ahead a little faster, but is losing Rotuma the price you're willing to pay? And if so, is this not a selfish decision to make? My generation could suffer much more than you think Rotumans are suffering today.

I think as an opponent of tourism I am giving you a chance—a chance to stop a mistake before it happens, a chance for Rotumans to keep their home, and a chance for Rotuman youth to have access to the Rotuma my mother and many others had.

From Henry Enasio (25 August 2009)

In Gloria’s response on 28 May 2009, she mentioned that we risk losing our beautiful home with tourism, whereas on 31 May 2009 I suggested for Gloria's peace of mind that she read The Rotuma Lands Act, especially the section relating to dealings, for since the Act's passage in 1959 the sale of Rotuman land to a non-Rotuman is prohibited.

But it’s apparent from Gloria’s last response that she has no idea of the law regarding land dealings in Rotuma. Therefore, to allay any unfounded fear with regard to Rotuma lands, allow me to say that besides our customs and the Council, we also have the Rotuma Lands Act. It’s imprinted in Chapter 138 of the Laws of Fiji and affords our lands extra protection.

Any changes to the Act will have to be by decree or a passage through Parliament. I have no doubt that the current review by the LRC will enhance and protect this relevant section of the Act, which will further safeguard the security of our lands. Any action contrary to this will definitely create a huge outcry amongst us. All indications are that the Government of day is keen on protecting our land rights too.

So perhaps it will be easier to quote the relevant section of the Rotuma Lands Act for Gloria’s reference to address the unfounded apprehension about us losing our lands to foreigners as a result of tourism in Rotuma.

Part 4 S15 (1)(2)(3)(4)

  1. Land registered under this Act shall not be alienated to non-Rotumans whether by sale, grant, transfer or exchange.
  2. Land registered under this Act shall not be leased to non-Rotumans (other than the Crown) for a term exceeding twenty-one years.
  3. Land registered under this Act shall not be mortgaged or charged, and, save as permitted under this Act, shall not be otherwise encumbered, whether by Rotuman or non-Rotuman owners.
  4. Any instrument purporting to deal with land contrary to the provisions of this section shall be null and void.

With this in mind I beg to differ from any suggestion that we’d be in danger of losing our lands as a result of tourism.

From Makerite L Afamasaga (nee Lima) 2 December 2010

The last time I visited Rotuma was in 2002. The beauty of the island, the rich culture and the friendly people are just some of the memories I will always have.

Tourism on the island would be an industrial revolution so to speak, which I believe would do more harm than good. Widening roads means intruding on people's land. Cutting down vegetation means less protection from hurricanes, etc. Increased motor vehicles would mean more pollution. Petrol prices are already through the roof and the cost of maintaining vehicles is expensive. How are the people going to pay? Then there would be a need for more water, electricity, better telecommunications. The idea of everyone having a mobile phone is ridiculous. How would the people pay for them when they can't pay for electricity. Street lights are to be built for what purpose? The hundreds of cars and people? Most of the people rely on financial assistance from family overseas. Would not these added upgrades then cause more financial stress for these family members. The island is far too small for such developments. This modernization has already invited a laughable amount of police to the island. So who is paying for all these policeman to sit and do nothing? Have they been placed there for impending trouble thanks to tourism?

I believe that these decisions have been based on money. To think that this beautiful island of Rotuma and its people will benefit is preposterous. The money earned by the people will be taxed and businesses will fail because tourists will be the sole investors on the island,which would then mean more tourism. There is no such thing as small scale tourism. One only has to look at the affects of tourism on small nations to see the influence it has had on its people. Think of the people and the island of Rotuma before we jump to the conclusion that tourism and modernization will be a great investment.

From Luisa Turagabeci (7 July 2011)

My name is Luisa Turagabeci, and am part Rotuman and Fijian. With my Rotuman mum, I was brought up in Farema, Malhaha, Rotuma, until I was old enough, that I came to Suva, to further my studies.

Well I don't agree with Tourism in Rotuma, as it is a small island, and there will be a lot of changes brought about to the people. Children will be exposed to the outer world, where they not only see it on TV but in reality. Our cultural and traditional values will be polluted with these modernization values.

Our natural resources, for examples picnic sites, and other places, we as the community will not have easy access to them, as there is a price to pay to have access to it. Freedom of movement comes in hand, where we can move freely, but with Tourism, there are places where we are prohibited.

Well when people move from place to place, they take with them their values and traditions, so just imagine different races of people being seen in Rotuma. Loss of culture and yes loss of traditions.

Faieksea ma hanisiof.

From Henry Enasio (25 August 2011)

I am of the opinion that the best way to learn is by first hand experience. As far as tourism is concerned, I’ve been to 10 different countries and have stayed in some very posh and some not so up-market hotels. I have stayed in 15 different hotels in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth in addition to 19 in Fiji and have had the opportunity to see and experience first hand what tourism is all about.

I therefore believe that I know a bit about tourism from those experiences and can advocate it for Rotuma as the way to go in the future, but in a regulated environment. Many countries are dependant on tourist dollars and Fiji is no exception. Tourism brings into Fiji much-needed foreign exchange and along with it benefits in the form of services, health, agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, and transport. Tourism is the number one income earner for Fiji, bringing in much more than sugar now brings in. It has made a significant contribution to the Fiji’s foreign exchange reserves and hence to the economy, with reserves currently at just under 4 months of imports.

That’s why there’s so much money being spent on advertising to make Fiji a tourist destination of choice and so many hotels being built in the country. In addition are the cruise boats, taxis, coaches and mini buses to cater for tourists. All this says a lot about the importance of tourism to the country of which Rotuma is an integral part and has indirectly benefited from it.

If tourism is bad for indigenous cultures, as opponents make it out to be, then why did the far-sighted Fijian landowners and chiefs, and the various Governments of Fiji, allow so many hotels to be built and tourists to come to Fiji? When I look at the results of these developments, I believe that Indigenous Fijian customs and traditions are made stronger and more robust, not desecrated or denigrated by the advent of tourism. And I don’t believe that tourism is doing more harm than good in our country.Otherwise the Government and the people of Fiji would not have tolerated it but would have intervened ages ago to stop it.

By transposing the same argument to Rotuma, which is part and parcel of Fiji, how can tourism, as alleged by Makerite on 2/12/10, “do more harm than good”to our island and culture? Also isn’t money the essence of most things in life? Hence I see Makerite’s  statements as out of touch with the realities of globalisation.

For as humans, we all live in the same world and breathe the same air, have similar hopes and needs, aspirations and dreams. These instincts keep us motivated, even if they are just dreams. For without these dreams for a better life style, progress would be slow and peoplebecome unmotivated and lethargic.

In simple economic terms, the residents of Rotuma want money to improve their lives. It’s that want for more and better that lies behind the remittances sent to the island by families in Fiji and overseas. But economics dictate that these are not enough to sustain all the family, school, community and religious obligations in the island. A good way to check out the lack of contentment felt by the people here is to visit the Post Office at Ahau. There, one will witness first hand the throng of people waiting for an opportunity to call their loved ones for an urgent remittance.

Hence the media cited Gagaj Maraf as having called for the Council to invite the Government Team on Poverty Alleviation to Rotuma. Therefore allow me to boldly state that given the current unemployment rate, tourism and home grown/cottage industries will provide the opportunities for the islanders to address and alleviate poverty, whereas businesses that are dependent on boats other than those sponsored by the Government, are bound to fail in the long run. There are plenty examples of this in Rotuma.

Tourism has helped to shape Fiji’s development and that includes Rotuma. And if anything is to be learned from it I’d say that it has made the indigenous culture stronger and more transparent. Tourism has enabled the ITaukei to proudly showcase their culture in kava ceremonies, dances, stories, village settings, handicrafts and artefacts.

All this made possible by the Fijians’ farsighted quest to preserve their heritage, culture and identity. They have made clear the dos and don’ts for tourists to abide by, and tour guides brief tourists of the requirements beforehand, which certainly helps to strengthen and perpetuate the Fijian culture. The same can be done for Rotuma. We, too, can allow tourism based on our culture and values.

Perhaps it’s fear of moving too fast that is inhibiting support for tourism in Rotuma. But we aren’t ignorant of the facts or so naive as to plunge full steam ahead without any legal advice regarding infringements and including an exit clause. If tourism doesn’t work as expected then there will be no arguments but to pull the pin. Then at least we’d have a basis to stand on other than mere speculation and hearsay.

Rather than be part of the solution, opponents of tourism seem unconcerned about people living in poverty, which results in our youths migrating to urban centres in Fiji to look for decent jobs only to be disappointed? Islanders need a financial alternative for the future to supplement their meagre resources. The funny thing is that the most vocal opponents of toruism are not residents of Rotuma. They rightly claim their precious Rotuman heritage but are oblivious to the daily toils that face the islanders.

As for Luisa, she needs to look at Deuba, which has several hotels in place although the beach is still one of the most popular and accessible places for the locals for a picnic and a swim, and so is Mosquito Island and Natadola beach. So, if we have the necessary controls and policies in place before tourism is allowed, why should our islanders miss out on the usage of our beautiful beaches in Rotuma because of tourism?

Makerite on 2/12/10 has portrayed a pessimistic view of the things that are already happening on the island as a result of contemporary changes in pursuit of a better life style. It is not tourism (which still has a long way to go) that is at issue, but globalisation and commitments made by Government to make Rotuma a better place to live, for the islanders. May I ask what’s wrong with wanting some of those things in the island? These developments have resulted in more employment opportunities and in thriving micro businesses that support a better lifestyle for many families.

So rather than depend on relatives for remittances why not help people on Rotuma realise their dreams through tourism and its associated industries, especially given limited job opportunities.

I dare say that ripples are already in the water for tourism in Rotuma. They will continue to expand and make headway with time as more residents contemplate their future and warm to the idea that tourism and cottage industries that are independent of boat schedules are the way to go for Rotuma, but with proper controls in place for the preservation of our culture, heritage and all that is dear to us. 

From Randolph Bentley (27 August 2011)

Tourism on Rotuma indeed is a very delicate issue. Having read the different opinions of Makerite, Luisa and Henry Enasio regarding tourism on Rotuma, one can understand the concerns of each individual.

As a current employee in the travel & tourism industry as well as a past employee in the airline industry, I believe a majority of the population from the North, Central and South Pacific Islands have travelled the globe and experienced first hand the benefits of the tourist dollar, which has certainly made a significant contribution to each island nation's economy.

One only has to visit each Pacific Island nation to witness this fact and also note that yes, their culture and tradition is still practised and will still be in existence for as long as the people continue to instill their strong values from one generation to the next.

At this point, may I highlight the size of the island of Rotuma. For an island of only 43sq. kilometers one can understand the enormous impact tourism might make. The authorities would need to monitor the land area allocated for accommodating visitors so as not to deprive the current island population of their present land for agricultural purposes and places of residence.

Another important factor is that there needs to be honest and fair negotiations between the land owners, authorities and tenants when leasing land if tourism is given the green light for development in Rotuma. History has shown that such deals where tourism is thriving, the land owners have only benefited on a notably very small scale. Their land and location is of much more value.


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