15 Sep 2016

Tonga's Vava'u running on empty

2:41 pm on 15 September 2016

Tonga's Vava'u island group has run out of fuel forcing the northern group's important tourism industry to turn people away.

President of the Vava'u Tourism Association, Calvin Schumaker, said there have been supply issues for two weeks now and there is currently no petrol available for purchase.

Mr Schumaker said yachts are not able to stop in Vava'u and some resorts which rely on diesel generators may be forced to temporarily close if no petrol arrives soon.

He said the fuel suppliers had not prepared well for the tourism high season.

"Usually we have about one fuel shortage per year and it is usually a couple of days but this is by far the biggest and the worse one. The major attribute for this fuel shortage is because they sold the previous fuel barge that used to bring in fuel from Nuku'alofa to Vava'u and they don't have a replacement boat as of yet."

Mr Schumaker said Pacific Energy has told locals they will have a vessel in Vava'u waters within two weeks.

He said Vava'u's economy has lost tens of thousands of dollars in the past week.