Norfolk Island Tourism has welcomed P&O Cruises’ announcement that its ships will make five visits to the island next year, labelling it a “tremendous opportunity” for the island.

Pacific Sun will call at Norfolk Island four times between March and June, 2010 as part of her South Pacific itineraries from Auckland, while superliner Pacific Jewel will make one call in September, 2010 as part of a longer South Pacific voyage.

Norfolk Island General Manager Terry Watson said each ship visit would inject about $500,000 into the local economy though port fees, stores and passenger spending, amounting to a total of $2.5 million over the five visits.

He said preparations were already underway for the visits, which he believed would further boost visitation and employment.

“Tourism is Norfolk Island’s lifeblood, so with almost 2000 passengers coming ashore each visit, we see this as a huge opportunity for the island,” Mr Watson said.

“The cruises are a great way for people to taste test Norfolk for a day. Our hope is that they will like what they see and come back and visit us another time,” he said.

An external territory of Australia, Norfolk Island is just over two hours by air from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Newcastle. Australian visitors need a valid passport or document of identity that can be obtained from Australia Post.