16 Dec 2010

New Tonga ferry enters service

2:56 pm on 16 December 2010

Tonga's new purpose-built ferry has arrived in Ha'apai as it has launched its service to the outer islands.

The MV 'Otuanga'ofa ferry was constructed and paid for by Japanese aid.

A spokesperson for the Tonga Tourism Centre on Ha'apai, Nonu Pohiva, says many local people turned up just to see it.

"Finally the people of Ha'apai now see the boat. And there's a lot of excitement among the people of Ha'apai that the boat is going on service starting with this service between Tongatapu and the outer islands. A lot of people they went out there just to take a look."

Mr Pohiva says there's hope that the new ferry will now bring more tourists to the outer islands, as it's much more affordable than flying.

The ferry, which replaces the Princess Ashika that sank last year, was tied up at the wharf on Tongatapu for two months after arriving from Japan.