30 Jun 2010

Tonga's Tourism Ministry says improving cruise ship numbers will be complicated

10:32 am on 30 June 2010

The Ministry of Tourism in Tonga says attracting more cruise ships to the kingdom is more complicated than simply beautifying its wharf.

The government is to spend 32 US million dollars to reconstruct the capital's wharf in a bid to attract more cruise ships to Nuku'alofa.

The Matangi Tonga Website reports the Prime Minister Feleti Sevele as saying the new wharf facility close to the centre of town and the royal palace, could attract 60 to 100 cruise ships a year.

But the Ministry's chief executive, Sakopo Lolohea, says the number of cruise ships coming in to the capital fluctuates each year, this year 11 will come in, compared to last years 23.

He says improving numbers will be complicated.

"The main cruise ship base for the Pacific is actually Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland. Unfortunately the popular cruise at the moment is only seven days and Tonga is actually part of the 9 day cruise. We are two days out from the popular cruise that comes from Sydney and Brisbane."

Mr Lolohea says the only way to solve this problem is to have a main base operating from Fiji.