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Back In Business, Natalei Owners Recount Struggles

“We were helpless because we were part of the tourism industry that suffered as a result,” Mr Bau said.
08 Aug 2022 16:31
Back In Business, Natalei Owners Recount Struggles
Natalei Eco-Lodge, Tailevu,director, Samuela Bau, said the damage left in the wake of TC Winston amounted to $1.5 million. Photo: Josefa Babitu

Natalei Eco-Lodge in Tailevu is fully operational, after renovation wrapped up on a section of the seaside property.

In 2016, part of the Central coastal resort was damaged by TC Winston, in what valuers estimated as a loss amounting to $1.5 million. Recently, the lodge completed just over $40,000 of repairs.

Owned by villagers of Natalei, the lodge employs 70 locals, and is a popular spot for Dolphin sighting.

Director, Josefa Bau, said building back better after two years of attempted tries, was no easy feat.

 

A Setback

As villagers rebuilt following TC Winston, COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world.

“We were helpless because we were part of the tourism industry that suffered as a result,” Mr Bau said.

“We were halfway through building our conference room, and other buildings, when the Tailevu pandemic hit us.”

 

A Collaboration

Mr Bau said owners capitalised on assistance by the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development through the Self Help Programme in 2019, in a bid to resume and complete renovations.

The ministry collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help in the rebuilding process.

The UNDP paid $12,002, while the Government and other stakeholders funded other components. The most recent repairs cost $40,510.

The Dawasamu-based lodge opened in 2001, and hosts groups and events for retreats. With six accommodation units spread along the beach, Natalei Eco-Lodge is close to two-hours drive out of Korovou Town.

 

Feedback: josefa.babitu@fijisun.com.fj



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