FIFTEEN students from Papua New Guinea have headed to Fiji to pursue studies across a wide range of courses offered at the Fiji National University’s (FNU) School of Tourism and Hospitality.

Fiji Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said the scholarships awarded to the students was a result of a recent initiative extended by the Fiji government to PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill during their respective visits to each other’s country in early 2013.

During the bilateral meetings, the PNG tourism sector was identified as one of the priority areas needing development and capacity building. Furthermore, the positive impact of this development cooperation will contribute to the sustainable development of PNG’s tourism sector which is expected to grow as a result of the resources boom currently being experienced.

State efforts led by both prime ministers have resulted in ramped up collaboration between the two large Pacific Island economies.

Mr Kubuabola acknowledged the contribution of the national university in meeting the needs underlined by the countries.

“The FNU will be an instrumental player in accelerating the knowledge and solution transfer in this South-South initiative,” he said.

“More importantly it is within the Melanesian framework of cooperation which aims to strengthen our collective self-reliance and build our capacity according to our own unique needs.”