Virtual “tribe” to colonize South Pacific island


“In the end, we’re showcasing Vorovoro and we end up with some eco-friendly toilets.” That’s the philosophical take from Ulai Baya, a Fijian. His village has leased a small, uninhabited Pacific island to a group of British adventurers who came up with a unique Internet scheme to create an expat “tribal community.” The agenda: “To have an adventure, to have a positive impact and protect the environment,” Ben Keene, co-founder of, told USAToday. To join his tribe, 5,000 members pay $210 per week for up to three weeks of roughing it, surrounded by tropical seas and unspoiled beaches.

The idea, according to the Web site, is to have “only a positive impact on the Island environment and the local Fijian communities.” The group has a three-year lease, and so far has built several composting toilets and a lodge. Their environmental agenda includes a promise “to promote and raise awareness for sustainable and eco-friendly living and travel as a real option for both tourists and communities around the world.”

USA Today’s story includes an online video feature about the arrival of the first “tribe members.” Apparently they’re not the only ones to notice… the organizers hired a team of publicists to get the word out, and grabbed coverage from network newscasts in the UK and USA. Their first year on the island is being filmed by a British documentary team.

Some bloggers have raised questions about the project. Tara McCormack asks, “Isn’t this all a bit delusional?…This looks more like an attempt to escape the world rather than change it.” Blogger Jem Matzan wonders where all the money is going and how it’s being managed, but in the end, he concludes that “you might well lose money through Tribewanted, but I doubt that it will be because Mark James (or Ben Keene) plotted to steal it from you.”