A new study has underlined the multi-million dollar value of cruise tourism to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, as the Pacific nations welcome more cruise ships to their shores.
The study, commissioned by the South Pacific’s leading cruise operator Carnival Australia, the Australian Government and World Bank Group member IFC, found that cruise tourism brought A$5.9 million into Papua New Guinea’s economy last year, including an estimated $200,000 in indirect economic benefits.
Meanwhile, the report found cruise tourism could grow five-fold in the Solomon Islands, from $600,000 to $3.3 million by 2017.
The study – Assessment of the Economic Impact of Cruising to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands – looked at the Solomon Islands main port, Honiara, and Papua New Guinea’s five main ports, identifying opportunities and investments to improve cruise tourism development and capitalise further on the growing sector. It follows a similar study in Vanuatu in 2014, where cruising was found to bring $34 million annually to the nation.
Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry – who travelled to Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea this week to release the report with government representatives – said the study was a key outcome of its partnership with the Australian Government to support sustainable development in the South Pacific.
Through two of its cruise lines, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises, Carnival Australia will make 26 visits to Papua New Guinea this year, bringing more than 44,000 passengers – an eight-fold increase in passenger numbers since 2013.
Ms Sherry said the potential of cruise tourism to the Solomon Islands would be visible later this year when P&O Cruises’ Pacific Eden makes her maiden visit to the nation, while homeported in Cairns. Pacific Eden’s visit will include the cruise line’s maiden call to Gizo Island on September 30, the day before the ship’s inaugural call to Honiara.
In total, P&O and Princess will have six ship visits to the Solomon Islands this year – a three-fold increase from last year.
Ms Sherry said Carnival Australia had a long and harmonious relationship with the Pacific Islands, its people and its communities.
“We have a commitment to practise sustainable tourism and ensure communities benefit from the growth of cruising,” Ms Sherry said.
“This report is significant because it confirms, for the first time for these nations, the long value chain of cruising, which reaches deep into the Pacific Islands to deliver economic opportunity.
“Importantly, it is also a forward looking document that paints a picture of opportunities for destinations to take advantage of the benefits of cruise tourism.
“We look forward to continuing to develop rewarding and positive relationships with governments and communities in this Pacific, with cruise tourism creating shared value for all.”
Tourism is vital to the sustainable growth of the Pacific islands, contributing an estimated 3 per cent of the Oceania region’s gross domestic product and 12 per cent of total employment in 2014, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.