World Bank may include ICT in Vanua Levu tourism initiative

PHOTO: World Bank

The success of boosting tourism demand in Vanua Levu will depend on its ability to manage essential tourism-related services, of which ICT is an important element, said the World Bank as work gets underway to develop tourism potentials there. 

Together with the Fijian government, the World Bank is in the early stages of an initiative to boost economic activities on Fiji’s second biggest island, located in the Northern Division of the Fiji Group, with focus specifically on tourism. 

“The project is still at the concept stage, therefore the exact components are not yet defined. At this early stage, it is expected that the project will be focusing on tourism destination development and resilient tourism infrastructure development. A set of investment options will be discussed with the Fiji government as the project preparation advances. The development objectives of the project could be to support resilient, sustainable tourism development in Vanua Levu through integrated destination development as well as enhanced connectivity and essential services infrastructure,” a spokesperson told Islands Business

“Vanua Levu’s success in boosting tourism demand will depend on its ability to manage essential tourism-related services. ICT is an important element of these essential facilities. Ideally an integrated planning approach shall be taken by all infrastructure access development (roads, electricity, digital fibre) to minimise costs and pool resources, and maximise the benefits. Depending on funding, the project may also identify investment options to improve digital connection in Vanua Levu to enhance its middle- to-last- mile connection,” he said.

In February this year, Vanua Levu became host to Fiji’s back-up international cable connection when the new Southern Cross Next Cable (SX Next) landed on Savusavu via FINTEL landing station, immediately providing Fiji’s second biggest island unprecedented direct access to the digital superhighway state-of-the-art 72 terabits per second capacity cable. 

On the domestic side, the three main ISPs Vodafone Fiji, Telecom Fiji and Digicel Fiji each have a 10Gigbits/s link on the Viti Levu to Vanua Levu cable link apart from their respective radio links across the islands, according to FINTEL CEO George Samisoni. 

This will drive the revival of the Northern Division and will be boosted by the completion over the next two years of Telecom Fiji’s fibre optic domestic cable to link Labasa to Savusavu.

“More detailed data will become available at a later stage of the project preparation. For now, the Fijian government is looking at developing tourism and other indirect job and economic opportunities linked to the sector in Vanua Levu. The project will be designed keeping in consideration job creation and benefits to include local communities,” the World Bank said.