Pacific news in brief for June 24

Papua New Guinea – floods

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has visited the flood-affected areas in Western Province.

NBC PNG reported he stopped at Obo Station in the Middle Fly District, then traveled by air to Suki Station in the South Fly District.

Awaba Station in the Delta Fly District was his final stop, before he flew back to Port Moresby the same day.

At Obo Station, Marape said he wanted to see firsthand the devastation caused by flooding, and also offer his condolences to those who have lost a loved one due to the floods.

As of 2016, the top source markets for tourists to the Northern Marianas were South Korea, followed by China, then Japan.

Northern Marianas – tourism

The Marianas Visitors Authority says 2061 arrivals came from China in May – the highest monthly number from China since direct flights were halted during the covid pandemic.

The Pacific Island Times reported the anticipated recovery of the China market was attributed to the resumption of Hong Kong Airlines’ direct flights between Hong Kong and Saipan in April.

However, Governor Arnold Palacios on one side, and the Commonwealth Port Authority and business organizations on the other, do not see eye to eye on the China tourism market.

While the CNMI’s tourism has been recovering at a slow pace after the pandemic, the Visitors’ Authority has noted an upward trend in May, although the numbers are still far from pre-pandemic levels.

Fiji – climate

Fiji has secured funding of around US$130,000 for training ahead of, and travel to, COP29.

The money comes from the Climate Ambition Support Alliance Opportunity Fund.

Five civil servants from Fiji, and five Masters students (from Pacific countries) of the Institute of Climate Indigenous Knowledge at the Pacific Theological College, will be trained in climate change negotiations.

The ten participants will work closely with their Governments to build their capacity in preparation for COP29, and the money also allows the ten to travel to COP.

COP29 is in Azerbaijan in November.

Tonga – communications

New Zealand and Australia are funding a second international undersea telecommunications cable to Tonga.

Australia is contributing US$19.3 million and New Zealand US$12.7 million to the Tonga Hawaiki Branch System.

Matangi Tonga reported the project is expected to be in place by late 2025.

Tonga’s prime minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni said this joint project with Australia and New Zealand will offer more resilience for communications, because there will be two cables operating in Tonga.

Cook Islands – budget

The Cook Islands has passed its NZ$328 million budget for 2024/2025.

The budget, which is themed ‘resilience’, focuses on key infrastructure investment projects for roads, and Pa Enua projects such as the Manihiki Airport upgrades, and Aitutaki’s water project.

The outer islands received an allocation of NZ$13.4 million dollars.

Cook Islands News reported money has also been set aside for charities and an increase in teachers’ salaries.

Niue – whales

Niue has welcomed the first migratory Oceania humpback whales to their shores.

In a media release, a Niue tourism spokesperson said the much-anticipated annual arrival marks another early start to the season, which traditionally runs from July – October.

The pods of humpbacks nurse their young in the sheltered sanctuary of Niue, a stop for the whales on their journey south along what’s known as the ‘humpback highway.’

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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