The South Pacific could be rolling out the welcome mat for more than one million Aussie cruisers within the next five years, to the huge benefit of Vanuatu.
At least that’s what Carnival Australia’s ceo Ann Sherry predicted on her visit to Port Vila for a series of conferences and business partnership events.
Putting Vanuatu back on the cruise map in the aftermath of recent disaster, Sherry said economic opportunities were ripe for the picking.
“This region is now the fastest growing cruise market in the world and at 4.2% Australia has the highest market penetration based on population,” she said.
“10% 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. “
Last year, 400,000 of the milestone one million Australians who cruised sailed to the South Pacific, and most of them enjoyed a stopover in sunny Vanuatu.
“Such a large number of cruise tourists represents a huge economic opportunity for Vanuatu and its tourism sector,” Sherry added.
“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.
“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 the conferences in Port Vila, Sherry met with local businesses hoping to join Vanuatu Water and Tanna Coffee in becoming suppliers to Carnival Australia brand ships.
With 120 Ni-Van crew already working on P&O Cruises’ three existing ships, Sherry also met with local educators and recruiters with the hope of increasing the number of Ni-Van staff onboard.
Sherry pointed to a number of success stories where Ni-Van crew had progressed to management roles onboard the ships.
Sherry added that in order for Vanuatu to cope with the expected influx of cruisers, investment in local infrastructure is crucial.
“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,” Sherry said.
“There are many strands to Carnival Australia’s commitment to Vanuatu and we are always looking to do more.”