22 Oct 2021

Huge airport development planned for Tonga tourism hub

From , 6:01 am on 22 October 2021

The airport for Tonga's main tourism hub, in Vava'u, could be  massively expanded under the biggest ever infrastructure development seen in the country.

The construction company Raw Mana has revealed plans for a lengthening of the runway at Vava'u Airport, a new terminal, along with solar and wind power systems to run it all.

The planned runway extension would allow direct flights from the United States, the UAE, Japan and China.

The company claims to have the backing of King Tupou VI but no details have yet been revealed about who is paying for the development.

The aim is to bring overseas tourists direct to the parts of Tonga most want to visit, and to facilitate the export of agricultural and marine products.

Don Wiseman asked our Tonga correspondent Kalafi Moala about the planned project and began by asking about the current of Lupepau'u  Airport in Vava'u.

Tonga is one of the few countries in the world where it is legal for people to swim with whales, although some conservationists are calling for an end to commercial swimming with whales operations.

This photograph taken on August 4, 2008 shows a humpback whale diving near the island of Vava'u in Tonga. Photo: DAVID BROOKS / AFP