Potential Economic Opportunity for Vanuatu With Forecast Of More Than One Million Australians Cruising To South Pacific Within Five Years
More than one million Australian cruise tourists could be sailing to the South Pacific within five years opening up potential economic opportunities in Vanuatu tourism, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said in Port Vila today.
Ms Sherry, who was in Vanuatu for a series of conferences and a keynote business partnership event on P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn, said the South Pacific has traditionally had the biggest share of cruise itineraries from Australia.
Last year, 400,000 of the milestone one million Australians who cruised, sailed to the South Pacific – with most of them visiting destinations in Vanuatu.
“This region is now the fastest growing cruise market in the world and at 4.2 per cent Australia has the highest market penetration based on population,” Ms Sherry said.
“Ten per cent market penetration in Australia is achievable within five years, the equivalent of three million passengers a year – with more than a million travelling to the South Pacific based on current itineraries.
“Such a large number of cruise tourists represents a huge economic opportunity for Vanuatu and its tourism sector.
“Years ago we made a commitment to Vanuatu to ensure that island communities shared in the economic benefits of cruising and there has been good progress in this regard.
Vila – Australia Pacific Islands Business Council onboard P&O Cruises Pacific Dawn in Vila
“We will continue to work with the government of Vanuatu, international agencies and Vanuatu communities to make the most of the emerging opportunities linked to cruise tourism.”
At today’s conferences in Port Vila, Ms Sherry met with local businesses hoping to join Vanuatu Water and Tanna Coffee in becoming suppliers to Carnival Australia brand ships.
Ms Sherry explained that the company’s supply chain was complex and extensive but it was not easy to break into it with suppliers needing to meet high standards in relation to quality, quantity and price. However Carnival Australia was ‘agnostic’ in a geographic sense when it came to finding the right suppliers for its ships.
With 120 Ni-Van crew already working on P&O Cruises’ three existing ships, Ms Sherry also met with local educators and recruiters with the hope of increasing the number of Ni-Van staff onboard.
Ms Sherry pointed to a number of success stories where Ni-Van crew had progressed to management roles onboard the ships.
But it was also important that educators and recruiters did everything possible to prepare potential Ni-Van crew for careers at sea and its unique and disciplined working environment.
Ms Sherry said the expected big increase in cruise tourists visiting Vanuatu in coming years underlined the need for local infrastructure investment which could support existing ports and open up new destinations.
Carnival Australia would continue to do everything it could to assist Vanuatu to reap the benefits of the surge in cruise tourism.
“We have previously contributed to infrastructure investment to open up new destinations, encouraged the establishment of tourism related ventures and provided employment opportunities on our ships visiting the region,” Ms Sherry said.
Programs supported by Carnival Australia have included the Enterprise Challenge Fund which involved the construction of jetties and passenger amenities at Champagne Bay, Wala and Mystery Island.
Carnival Australia was also involved in the conduct of baseline studies at remote destinations to determine environmental, social and cultural values along with strategies to mitigate any risks due to the impact of cruise tourism.
Destination management plans were developed in consultation with local communities. The company was also a joint supporter of the Vanuatu Economic Study, the first of its kind in the South Pacific to measure the economic benefits of cruise tourism. Passengers contributed to the P&O Pacific Partnership with Save the Children to fund the construction of kindergartens and health posts.
“There are many strands to Carnival Australia’s commitment to Vanuatu and we are always looking to do more,” Ms Sherry said.
“In recent months we were honoured to join with our passengers in delivering humanitarian aid in the wake of Cyclone Pam underlining the respect with which Vanuatu and its people are held.”