Vanuatu is looking forward to having international cruise liners through its pristine waters when the nation opens for its first vessel on November 9 in a trial run.
It has been more than two years since a cruise liner caressed the harbour at Port Vila and the government is ramping up its efforts with the Department of Tourism to ensure the official resumption of cruise tourism by December 1.
Vanuatu Tourism acting director Geraldine Tari said Vanuatu wanted to ensure that they were ready for cruise liners and that is why they are starting with a trial run.
“We have been in direct consultation with both the Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines since July to agree and develop a safe pathway for a slow restart of the cruising industry as more and more tourism operators prepare their businesses for recovery,” Ms Tari said.
“It is not an easy road but we need to start somewhere and this will help contribute to the recovery of our tourism and hospitality sector.”
President of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia Marguerite Fitzgerald said Vanuatu is a much loved stop for tourists and thanked the Vanuatu Government for believing in the company to help return cruise tourism to its shores.
“Our guests love Vanuatu and its people and have looked forward to the day when they could return to a country that makes the South Pacific such an attractive region for cruise tourism,” Ms Fitzgerald said.
“Our ships returning to Vanuatu will initially operate below capacity in terms of their passenger numbers to help Vanuatu authorities test protocols and procedures. In the meantime, we reaffirm our commitment to Vanuatu’s island communities who have always made our guests feel so welcome.”
Caretaker Minister for Tourism James Bule reiterated the importance of the industry’s role in contributing towards more economic activities.
“We are thrilled to see our first international cruise ships returning to our shores, as it represents a lot for our communities and domestic tourism business sector, which rely heavily on the cruise supply chain,” he said.
“Our taxi, buses, tour operators, transfer companies, handicraft, Vanuatu made items shops, tour activities and many more benefit from the cruise market and this return of the cruise industry is injecting money directly into the pockets of these businesses to recover.”
The Pacific Encounter will be the first ship to come to Port Vila. It is scheduled to depart from Brisbane on November 9.
The Pacific Encounter will stop first at Lifou, New Caledonia then Port Vila before the ship returns to Brisbane. The Pacific Adventure sails from Sydney to Mystery Island on November 18, then will go to Port Vila and Luganville.