Vanuatu has a special place in the heart of Australian cruisers, and after the devastation of Cyclone Pam we have been keeping up to date on the situation, from ships visiting Port Vila with supplies to the New Zealand government granting millions of dollars worth of aid.
Although there's still a long way to go before Vanuatu and its people are fully restored to their beautiful selves, the forecast is looking good. Of the more than one million cruisers who took to the water last year, more than 400,000 were headed into the islands of the South Pacific - and a good proportion of those visited at least one destination in Vanuatu. If in five years the number of cruise passengers rises to three million as predicted, that could see more than a million heading to Vanuatu and the South Pacific, a huge boost to economies. Vanuatu cruises are on the up-and-up, and it's good news for the nation!
Carnival Australia's CEO, Ann Sherry, was recently in Vanuatu for a series of conferences and meetings with Vanuatu businesses looking to join brands like Vanuatu Water and Tanna Coffee in supplying goods for use on Carnival-brand lines (P&O, Princess, Carnival, Cunard, Holland America) offering cruises to Vanuatu. She said of the fast-growing cruise market: "Such a large number of cruise tourists represents a huge economic opportunity for Vanuatu and its tourism sector. 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."
Ann Sherry speaks at the Australia Pacific Islands Business Council Lunch
Ms Sherry also used her time there to meet with local recruiters and educators to look into increasing the number of Ni-Van (the native Vanuatu people) crew on the Carnival brand ships. P&O already have 120 Ni-Van crew across their three ships, many having progressed to management roles, and it is hoped that this will increase.
The role of recruiters and educators onshore is to ensure that potential crew members are well prepared for the unique shipboard working environment.
Ni-Van crew sing Vanuatu's national anthem on the Pacific Dawn
Carnival Australia and its various cruise lines have a long tradition of helping out in Vanuatu. As well as providing employment and business opportunities, they have contributed to and supported programs for developing infrastructure around the island nation. Of course, their help in Vanuatu is a mutually beneficial arrangement, and Carnival has good reason to invest so much on one of their most treasured destinations.
Support offered by the company has included involvement in:
- The Enterprise Challenge Fund building of jetties and passenger amenities at Champagne Bay, Wala and Mystery Island.
- Baseline studies in remote parts of Vanuatu to determine social, cultural and environmental values and strategies minimising the effects of cruise tourism in these areas.
- Establishment of tourism related ventures.
- P&O Pacific Partnership and Save the Children Fund for construction of kindergartens and health posts.
It's great to see cruise lines and cruise destinations working together for the good of our South Pacific region! The expected surge in cruise tourism to Vanuatu will likely mean an increased need for infrastructure, ports, businesses and employees - we look forward to Carnival's involvement in these endeavours in the next few years. What's your favourite destination in Vanuatu?