SPTO promotes South Pacific as an alternative cruise region

The Pacific Dawn cruise ship visited Papua New Guinea in February. photo courtesy P&O Cruises.

The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is attending the world’s largest cruise travel show in a bid to further develop the cruise tourism industry in the Pacific Islands region.

SPTO’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Cocker is currently attending Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA from March 14 to 17 along with a number of key stakeholders from the Pacific cruise industry.

Held annually, Seatrade Cruise Global is the cruise industry’s premier global event. It brings together every facet of the business including cruise lines, suppliers, travel agents and partners. Globally, the cruise industry carries approximately 21 million passengers per year.

SPTO will use the Seatrade platform to promote the South Pacific as an alternate region that international cruise liners can consider.

The Pacific cruise industry has grown by 43% in the last three years and currently generates around US$640 million per year for the region.

New Caledonia and Vanuatu lead the charge, making up 78% of the total number of cruise visits in the South Pacific. The latest available figures (2015) show New Caledonia had 444,124 day visitors, followed by 197,471 day visitors in Vanuatu. Fiji follows in third place with 113,761 day visitors.

Cruise tourism is an emerging industry in other Pacific Island countries like Tonga, where the Vuna Port in Nuku’alofa has recently undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade and is attracting more visiting cruise vessels.

Cruise ships bring a much-needed source of additional employment and income to remote communities by linking travellers to outer islands that are not as easily accessed by air.

SPTO is currently implementing the Pacific Cruise Tourism Development Strategy 2015 – 2019 in partnership with cruiseliners and private sector partners.

Based in Suva, SPTO works with 16 Pacific island countries including the Solomon Islands, to market and develop tourism in the South Pacific region.