Island News

Building Yasawa-i-Ra’s tourism image with a jetty

Written By :
01 Aug 2009 12:00

image Written By : VASITI RITOVA and ILIESA SOKIA. They don’t sing about Yasawa-i-Rara for nothing!
According to the gang at Blue Lagoon Cruises, it is arguably one of the most exquisitely remote islands in the Yasawa Group.
Along with sheltered lagoons and pristine waters lapping the shores of white sandy beaches, Yasawa-i-Rara is magical. It is the sort of thing that has attracted thousands of international visitors to this part of Fiji through the years.
Made famous by the epic, “Blue Lagoon” which starred the leggy Brooke Shields, Yasawa-i-Rara, with its nearby islands like Nanuya Lailai, has enjoyed fame and touches of class through its breathtakingly beautiful, pristine and private island.
Blue Lagoon says the waters are clear and there are miles and miles of fine white sandy beaches. Tourism is the main economic booster and today, Government is going to ensure it remains that way.
And because development has come to a halt in recent years, given that the jetty received a lashing from cyclones in the cyclone-prone Yasawa Island, a strategy to make amends for citizens and visitors alike in this area is being put together.
At least FJD$500, 000 has been set aside to construct a pontoon jetty at Yasawa-i-Rara by the end of the year.
The Minister for Transport, Public Utilities and Works, Timoci Natuva, recently led an eight-member delegation of senior government officials to visit the area.
Mr Natuva has now set himself to work on the plan to ensure Yasawa-i-Rara remains a major tourist attraction in the widespread Yasawa Islands.
The proposed site is situated at the northern end of Yasawa-i-Rara and inhabitants of the five villages that that make up Yasawa Tikina are looking forward with much anticipation.
Yasawa-i-Rara used to have a smaller pontoon jetty that got washed away during the cyclone season of the 1980s.
Mr Natuva inspected the proposed site with his team and appeared satisfied with what was in the plan and what he saw.
Six companies have shown interest in building the 100-metre long pontoon jetty when Government placed advertisements for a tender in the local newspapers.
“The proposed pontoon type is ideally best and suitable considering the locality of the site and the provision of convenience and comfort to those who uses it,” a Ministry statement says.
Divisional Roads Engineer, West, Peni Tuinona, is going to monitor the construction of the new jetty.
“A tender is likely to be called in by August and should the tender be confirmed, the ground breaking ceremony shall follow straight after with the construction proper to start as well,” Mr Tuinona said.
“Ideally the jetty shall allow cruise liner to reach Yasawa-i-Rara and also enable tourist to physically set foot on the island.”
After its construction it is expected to rekindle their once viable and booming tourist industry which died down when tourists cruise liner no longer frequent the upper Yasawa waters due to the non-availability of a proper berthing jetty.
The jetty site has been surveyed and is currently under tender for construction. The Minister also inspected road works that is currently ongoing in the island.
Cruise liners visit Yasawa Water 15 times a year, but have not been able to travel as far as Yasawa-i-Rara because there is no suitable jetty for boats to berth.
When the new jetty is completed, tourists would be able to reach villages such as Bukama, Teci, Dalomo, Tamusua and Nabukeru.
A hive of activities is expected to increase for the tourist sector in Yasawa-i-Rara when the project completes and Government wants more involvement in local handicraft, eco-tourism and various associated activities from the local communities.
The island has an existing road which was constructed in 1975. Due to natural disaster and poor maintenance it is no longer accessible forcing people to resort to sea travel.
The current road upgrading work in the island will bring about travelling convenience and comfort for the six villagers in Yasawa.
The first phase of roadwork is almost completed, and that is the clearing and grubbing to be completed by August.
Constructions of drain, supply and delivery of blocks and concrete will follow straight after.
By November spreading and compacting of base shall be completed.
Yasawa-i-Rara has an air strip and with the new jetty coming up and the road upgrading works almost completed, tourists shall have a choice of the mode of travelling they wish to take to the island.
Local bands will then have lots more compositions about Yasawa-i-Rara.
There’s going to be a lot to sing about.

Laybuy it 5squares

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