6 October 2017
From the High Commissioner's Desk - Promoting Cruise Tourism
In recent years cruising has become one of the fastest growing areas of the Australian tourism industry, with the Pacific Islands a destination of choice for many Australians holidaying on cruise ships. As regular readers of this column would know, I have made maximising the benefits for Solomon Islanders from the cruise industry one of my priorities. I am therefore delighted to report an increase in the number of cruise boats coming here over the last two years. In 2017 we expect 16 cruise boats, both large and small, will visit Solomon Islands. The Australian High Commission has worked closely with Carnival Australia to promote Solomon Islands as a destination and we are very happy to see this work coming to fruition.
I was thrilled to see the Pacific Eden passengers in town last week when the ship visited Gizo and Honiara. This was a big success. As you would expect, there is lots of work and preparation for the arrival of a boat carrying over 2,000 passengers. It is great to see everyone in Honiara and Gizo – provincial and national government, business, NGOs and the community – working together to make the visitors feel so welcome and their visit a huge success.
For many of the tourists, this was their first time to Solomon Islands. They told us about their experiences, especially how friendly Solomon Islands people are. This is something that money can’t buy! In Gizo, the visiting tourists were lucky enough to experience part of the mini tomoko festival and see traditional war canoes racing. I hear that two of the visiting cruise tourists even got married at Batu Simbo Island close to mainland Gizo. In Honiara, they enjoyed visiting the many World War II sites and the National Museum.
The Australian High Commission was also very proud to be involved setting up an information tent in both Gizo and Honiara. This was a really valuable opportunity to encourage tourists to experience some of the wonders that Solomon Islands has to offer, including the stunning islands and beautiful handicrafts. As you know, Solomon Islands has a strong arts and craft tradition. Australia supports the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program which has developed awareness raising materials including a vendors guide and video product (for use aboard cruise ships) to promote the richness and diversity of Solomon Islands’ arts and crafts to tourists. We hope that these tourists come back and visit Solomon Islands again, buy lots of handicrafts and tell their friends and families what a wonderful and unique place this is.
I would like to congratulate everyone involved for their contributions and efforts in making these port calls so successful. Tourism presents a real opportunity for economic growth in Solomon Islands. Australia is strongly committed to helping this sector grow and flourish.
I am looking forward to the next Pacific Eden visits to Gizo and Honiara on 20-21 October and 1-2 November.