FSM officials still confident that lodging for Pacific Islands Forum meeting will be sufficient

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
June 23, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—The requirements for lodging and other logistical arrangements for the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting in early September will stretch Pohnpei’s capacities nearly to the breaking point. Still, FSM government officials are confident that they will be able to meet the demands of the high level meeting that will attract hundreds of participants in early September.
The FSM will serve as host for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meetings that will be held in Pohnpei beginning on September 7 and ending on September 11.
“The Pacific Islands Forum is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing states,” says the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat website. “Members include Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.”

To help combat the lodging problem, FSM’s Department of Foreign Affairs has asked the delegations to limit their delegations to the Heads of State and their spouses and five support personnel. Their spokesperson said that Australia and New Zealand would likely have a difficult time with that requirement since those countries tend to travel with a large support staff, including media personnel.
But the people representing member countries of the Pacific Island Forum are just the tip of the iceberg for PIF meetings. Many other countries, including the United States, China, and Japan, to name a few, will send representatives. If past experience is any indication, at least 100 media representatives will also be present at the meetings.
Many people in the FSM are dealing with all of the wide and varied logistics of the PIF meetings. Jackson Soram of the FSM Department of Foreign Affairs is one of those. He said that lodging is one of the biggest challenges for the meetings. “There just aren’t a lot of rooms and beds in Pohnpei, and there will be a lot of sharing involved”, he said.
The Tourism Division of the FSM Department of Resources and Development has been coordinating with the Pohnpei State Tourism Department to ensure that all of the delegates will have a place to stay.
According to data provided by the Pohnpei Tourism Office that is nowhere near complete, Australia has already booked 32 of Pohnpei’s scant number of hotel rooms. New Zealand has only currently booked 10.
At press time, Japan had entirely booked the 10 reported rooms at Joy Hotel. Canada had booked three rooms at the China Star Hotel. China has booked six in that same hotel. With the Australian and Chinese bookings, the China Star Hotel is fully booked. The United States booked the seven rooms at Mangrove Bay along with the 19 rooms at the Seven Stars Inn. Taiwan booked 12 of the 18 rooms at South Park.
The data sent today from Pohnpei Tourism didn’t list any bookings for the Cliff Rainbow Hotel which has 37 rooms. The list also didn’t include any bookings from Yvonne’s Hotel which Pohnpei Tourism says has 27 rooms.
There is no guarantee that the reported bookings that were sent from Pohnpei Tourism today are at all complete. A meeting is scheduled for after press time that the Tourism office says will solidify the numbers as they stand to date.
The list also didn’t include home stay possibilities for delegates and others. Soram said that several dozen have been identified and there may be more that will yet be identified.
He said that the best thing that the people of Pohnpei could do to help in preparation for the meetings that will inject a large capital infusion into its economy would be to clean up the island so that the FSM is presented in the best possible light for all of the international visitors that will be here.