P&O Cruises has joined with the local community on the island of Lifou to celebrate 20 years of cruising to the picturesque Loyalty Islands in the South Pacific.
Visiting P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel Captain Roger Bilson and his senior officers were guests at a special ceremony and community celebration that reflected on cruising’s contribution to the island’s economy and to the development of cultural tourism.
P&O Cruises’ visits to Lifou began in July 1995 when its flagship Fairstar made the first of five calls that year. By 2000, Lifou was receiving 27 annual cruise ship calls and by 2010 this number had increased to 62.
During 2015 more than 100 cruise ships will visit the island, and the Lifou community is keen to welcome more visitors.
Lifou Grand Chief Pascal Sihaze and various customary members have long recognised cruise ship visits as making a positive, sustainable contribution to the local economy and to the island’s cultural heritage.
They identified the concept as ‘cultural tourism’ based on human contact and cultural exchanges in which the local community could share traditional knowledge, art and the Kanak culture with visitors. They also saw that sharing their traditions and culture would help the island’s young people to retain features of their cultural heritage through dance, traditional fishing and art.
Carnival Australia Destinations Director Michael Mihajlov said the cruise line valued the bonds it had developed with the Wetr community over so many years.
“Lifou is a very special place, and we have worked closely with the community to ensure that cruise tourism to the island is sustainable as the number of visitors continues to grow,” Mr Mihajlov said.