Tonga’s celebration of its Expo 2012 Yeosu National Day at the international Exhibition Expo drew attention of the Expo crowd on Monday August 6. To celebrate this important event, Tonga’s Minister for Commerce, Tourism and Labour Dr. the Hon. Viliami Uasike Latu and Head of delegation alongside Korea’s Commissioner of Yeosu Expo 2012 Mr. Lee Joon Yee started with the national flag of Tonga being hoisted and national anthem being played at the Expo Hall.  The flag raising served to recognize the close ties between the two countries.

Head of Delegation Dr. the Hon. Viliami Latu in his formal statement welcomed the theme of this Expo and stated that ‘the Government of Tonga is already convinced, that the living and potential of non-living marine resources from our maritime zones, remains critical to our future.’  The Minister further stated that ‘for those of us Pacific Islands who are also alliance of smaller vulnerable economies, the organization of the Yeosu Expo 2012 provides critical market opportunities for our vulnerable economies.’   Dr. Latu further noted Tonga’s export of squash to Korea increased since 2006 and highlighted that recently, it has been challenging for Tongan exporters of squash to Korea given the applied tariffs of 27%, rendering Tongan squash uncompetitive.  Government of Tonga is therefore undertaking to establish modalities for the reduction of tariffs in order to enable our squash exporters, to compete effectively.

Following the exchange of statements, thousands of visitors to the Expo had the opportunity to enjoy original performance given by the Tonga National Centre cultural group. The singing and drumming during the performances portrayed the typical joy and arts of the people of Tonga.  The celebration also benefitted from a solo dance performed by the recently crowned Miss Tonga 2012 Ebony Nuku who was also part of the delegation.  As a result, Tonga’s Pavilion at the Expo received much attention including the traditional interpretation of Tonga’s tourism brand ‘The Kingdom of Tonga as the True South Pacific, the whale watching activities, primary export products including sea cucumber and squash amongst other Tongan made products displayed causing interactive learning opportunities with visitors.

At the end of the official ceremony, the Dr. Hon. Viliami Latu alongside Commissioner Lee Joon-Hee visited the Pavilions of Korea, Pacific including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.  Officials also visited one of the main technological attractions in the exhibition compound – the Expo Digital Gallery, an impressive led curtain covering entirely the main alley at the EXPO, on which the Tongan flag and Korea’s flag were shown.  Other Pavilions were visited including Qatar and the US before a dinner was also hosted in honor of the delegation to round up Tonga’s national day.

The VIP delegation from Tonga being led by the Organizing Committee of the 2012 Expo Yeosu Korea.
(L-R) CEO of Commerce, Tourism & Labour and Commissioner of Section for Tonga – Tatafu Moeaki,
Operating Staff – Kololiana Naufahu (back) Tourism sector rep – Saia Moehau,
Fisheries sector rep – Trish Emberson (far back),
Minister for Commerce, Tourism and Labour – Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu (centre).

The Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu and Commissioner General of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea Mr. Lee Jun-Hee
together with representatives from the Tourism sector and Fisheries sector.

Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu signing the Guestbook with the Commissioner General of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea, Mr. Lee Jun Hee

The VIP delegation from Tonga together with the Commissioner General of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea, Mr. Lee Jun-Hee.
(L-R Kololiana Naufahu [Tourism rep], Losilini Loto'ahea [Fisheries rep],
Tatafu Moeaki [CEO of MCTL and Commissioner of Section for Tonga],
Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu [Minister for MCTL], Mr. Lee Jun-Hee [Commissioner General],
Julie Kwon [Deputy Director of Asia & South Pacific Division],
Saia Moehau [Tourism rep], Tricia Emberson [Fisheries rep]

Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu delivering his speech at the Official Ceremony at the Tonga National Day.

Cultural Dances from the Tongan National Cultural Centre (TNCC) performing at the National Day

The VIP delegation together with the 2012 Miss Heilala, members of the cultural group and
Korean volunteers inside the Tonga Booth.
(incld L-R: Losilini Loto'ahea, Tricia Emberson, Saia Moehau, Tatafu Moeaki
, Commissioner Lee, Ebony Nuku, Hon. Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu,
'Akosita Lavulavu, 'Etuate Lavulavu)