9 Jan 2015

Tonga Tourism defends industry

12:16 pm on 9 January 2015

Tonga Tourism has defended criticism the sector is flailing, saying tourism has increased by 20 percent in the last year and will continue to grow in 2015.

An industry-led body, the Tonga Tourism Association, said the former government had weak tourism policies and did not effectively work with the sector.

Its president, Saia Moehau, has also called for the appointment of a new tourism minister, saying the current one, Dr Pohiva Tu'i'onetoa, has no experience.

But the general manager of government-funded Tonga Tourism, Stuart Perry, says Dr Tu'i'onetoa has only been in the role for four days and is confident in his abilities.

Mr Perry says tourism is expanding and many businesses are reaping the benefits.

"We are seeing a growth in the industry, we're seeing certainly a growth in new development. There has been a steady increase in the number of visitors coming here from Australia and New Zealand, and from around the world."

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Photo: RNZ