Friendly IslandsPleasant islands
Anger in Paradise: The'Friendly Islands' are in pain.
With untouched water full of sharks and cetaceans and an untouched landscape of exotic wildlife, Tonga draws a postcard-like polyynesian landscape with exotic plants of Hibiskus and Frankie. However, beneath the picturesque Friendly Islands there is a poor nation where tens of thousand people have fallen into distress as a result of stranded bank transfers due to the world' s shortage of funds.
Polynesia's only remaining empire has been severely affected by the collapse, with international transfers, on which it depends for at least 35 percent of GDP, having dried up drastically. Moreover, the overall volatility of 2008 has led to a strong increase in the cost of imports of fuels and foods, leading to increasing levels of unemployment, with more graduates joining the unemployment rankings each year.
In a December budgetary declaration, however, the authorities stated that "further borrowings must be prevented, as Tonga already has a high level of exposure to a sovereign credit crisis". While Tonga was fortunate enough to have these migratory flows, Derek Brien, head of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy's think tanks, said transfers were his biggest currency resource and made him susceptible to international crisis.
"The current issue I assume is how to prevent exposure to outside shock, such as the current credit transfer flow, which will have a kick-on effect at home," he said. "It is not the sole challenger for Tonga, it is the most small Pacific islands."
Tonga, a group of some 170 islands over 700,000 sq km western of the World Date Line, has great hopes for this. The tourist industry was hit by the 2006 violence in the city of Nuku'alofa, which made the city centre a smoldering shipwreck, and the 2009 earthquake of 8.0 in the isolated Niuatoputapu area, which caused a devastating cataclysm.
It is hoped that the economy will grow by two percent by 2013/14, partly through intensified, high-quality tourist activities focusing on the outlying islands such as Vava'u with its golden sand and perfect yachting grounds. The current head of the Ministry of Education, Sandra Fifita, said the industry has great promise for the faithful Christendom.
"It is the major industry that attracts FDI to Tonga, much bigger than farming and fishing," she said. "Of course, it is the leader in revenues in all sectors," Moala adds, and adds that it also faces infrastructural difficulties that also affect the two other major industry groups - farming and fishing.
He added that the only thing we have to expect is to go touring. "There are many changes in infrastructure, many changes in attitude that have to take place in Tonga. We must, however, develop the tourist trade as Tonga's principal source of income.