By James Wilkinson on Denarau Island, Fiji
Fiji’s convention centre and casino project on Denarau Island remains in doubt, with developers now paying a USD$100,000 fine each month until the project opens.
The land where the casino, hotel and convention centre is set to be located has yet to be cleared, meaning that the project is at least 24 months away from completion if construction starts this week.
Speaking exclusively to SPICENEWS on camera at the opening of stage three at the Wyndham Resort Fiji Denarau Island last week (Oct 22), Fiji’s Attorney General and Tourism Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said he is hopeful the project is completed to give Fiji a much-needed large scale events facility.
Sayed-Khaiyum said, “I hope it happens.We have given them a significant amount of time and we wrote to them a few weeks back and said they needed to show cause [as] to why we should not revoke the license.
“There is a condition under the license that was issued to them that they need to pay USD$100,000 per month should they not open the doors by October 1, 2013, which they have for the month of October, but we’d rather they open the casino.
“But if they do show cause and its palatable then we’ll continue with it, but if it’s not acceptable by us, then we’ll need to go back to the drawing board, revoke the license and we’ll have to call for fresh tenders.”
In early October, project owners One Hundred Sands Limited told the Fiji Times they planned to proceed with the FJD$290 million development and were in ‘no rush’ because they ‘want to do it right’, according to Chairman Larry Claunch.
“There are many works involved like the architecture planning and many other documentation works as well. But, yes, we are definitely still interested in the project,” he told the Fiji Times.
In the interview, Sayed-Khaiyum also revealed the Momi Bay development, a resort that has remained almost built and never completed for several years on the Coral Coast, should re-start construction in the first quarter of 2014.
Sayed-Khaiyum, said a ground-breaking at the Coral Coast project would happen in the first quarter of 2014.
The resort, owned by the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) since the Fijian Government took sole ownership in 2010 following the collapse of New Zealand-based Bridgecorp in 2007, was originally proposed to be branded as a J.W Marriott hotel.
The FNPF was significantly exposed in the original project to the tune of over FJD$60 million and in 2012, the Fijian Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama – who officiated at the Wyndham event this week – announced a FJD$150 million investment from the Fijian Government to ensure the project’s completion.
Sayed-Khaiyum said, “A lot of people have been waiting with bated breath to ensure that it does happen and it is a project that could get to the size of Denarau if not bigger.”
Marriott declined to comment on the project when contacted by SPICENEWS.
SPICENEWS flew to Nadi with Fiji Airways. The former Air Pacific has a new name and a new fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which operate to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States from Fiji. The airline also operates flights across the Pacific –primarily on next-generation Boeing 737s – and on each flight you can expect friendly Fijian hospitality, good-quality meals and beverages. For bookings, visit www.fijiairways.com