24 Apr 2012

Cruise ship growth centres on Melanesia

1:06 pm on 24 April 2012

Cruise ship schedules for the Pacific suggest just a fraction of the region is reaping the benefits of an increase in visitors.

The number of passenger visits has grown by 17 percent since 2007 and is expected to reach 1.3 million by the end of the year.

New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji are the main benefactors.

The South Pacific Tourism Organisation says the first thing companies consider is the cost of fuel.

Its chief executive, Ilisoni Vuidreketi, says more could be done to promote other destinations.

"So that cruise company, they'll be able to know that if you go to Tonga, Samoa, the berthing facilities available are like this and that. The sharing of this information is very important and also these island countries need to be more active in terms of putting together facilities that's able to accommodate the visitors of these ships."

Ilisoni Vuidreketi says the cruise ship trade offers a good alternative for places like Kiribati which have great tourism products but are not easily accessible by air.