Royal Caribbean International and senior Vanuatu government representatives marked the completion of Mystery Island’s brand new tender pier yesterday with a maiden visit from the region’s largest megaliner, Explorer of the Seas.
The pier was officially opened by Acting Prime Minister, The Honourable Joe Natuman from the Vanuatu government at a ceremony attended by the Captain and senior executive team of Explorer of the Seas.
Undertaken by Royal Caribbean at a cost of $2.5 million, the new pier replaces an older, smaller pier which was frequently damaged during cyclones and now ensures that Mystery Island can continue to receive cruise tourists year-round. The bigger pier also allows the island to handle increasingly larger cruise ships as the local industry evolves.
This follows the earlier upgrade of the cruise berth in the capital Port Vila, where Royal Caribbean supported the addition of four new bollards capable of berthing its Voyager Class ships – the largest cruise ships operating in the region. In partnership with the Vanuatu Government, Royal Caribbean has invested over $4 million in shipping infrastructure in Vanuatu over the last 12 months.
Acting Prime Minister, The Honorable Joe Natuman, said he welcomed the development. “Today is a very proud day for tourism in Vanuatu, and we are extremely grateful to Royal Caribbean for their assistance in ensuring the continued success of cruise ship visits to our country”, said Mr Natuman.
“Tourism is incredibly important to our economy and the wellbeing of our people. We are committed to working with Royal Caribbean to ensure we can continue to bring Australian, New Zealand and international guests to our beautiful country into the future,” Mr Natuman concluded.
Adam Armstrong, managing director for Royal Caribbean in Australia & New Zealand, said the investments in Mystery Island and Port Vila are the first of several potential infrastructure projects in the South Pacific islands, where the cruise line is investing significantly to ensure the region continues to benefit from cruise tourism as the size of ships increase, and therefore the number of passengers grows.
“Cruises to the South Pacific are the most popular itineraries for Australian travellers – and Vanuatu is one of the highest rated destinations for our guests. Being able to guarantee calls to destinations like Mystery Island and Port Vila with our larger ships is vital to cruise tourism to Vanuatu and is an important economic driver for our island nation neighbour. Our investment here solidifies Royal Caribbean’s long-term commitment to cruising in the South Pacific,” Armstrong said.
Cruise tourism injected $34 million into Vanuatu in 2013 and brought an estimated further $18 million dollars in indirect economic benefits, according to the Assessment of the Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism in Vanuatu. Each cruise ship arriving in Vanuatu brings an estimated $257,000 worth of direct benefits to a range of businesses and organisations – or around $125 in passenger spend per person.
During the 2015/16 summer season alone, which concluded this week, Royal Caribbean made almost 50 calls to ports in Vanuatu and brought more than 120,000 tourists to the country.
Royal Caribbean shore excursions in Vanuatu are delivered by local tourism partners who are accredited and qualified, offering experiences such as snorkelling and scuba diving, but also cultural experiences that support villagers and their traditions, such as basket weaving, music and dance, as well as local remedies and food preparation techniques.
For further information or to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au, phone 1800 754 500 or see your local travel agent.