Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises and represents a number of other international cruise brands, today welcomed initiatives that will help connect the growth of cruise ship visits to the South Pacific with economic opportunity for island communities.

This includes support for a shore tours business venture and associated activities at Mystery Island in the southern most chain of islands in Vanuatu, which has the potential to become the template for similar tourism related businesses across the South Pacific.

Carnival Australia also welcomed early moves by New Zealand and Australian maritime authorities that could lead to the conduct of new hydrographic surveys of key shipping routes in the South Pacific to update very old paper based navigational charts.

“The South Pacific is now at the heart of one of the world’s fastest growing cruise markets with 120 cruises carrying a combined total of 375,000 passengers scheduled for 2013 alone,” said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates a combined fleet of seven P&O Cruises’ and Princess Cruises’ ships.

“P&O Cruises has been sailing to the South Pacific for nearly 80 years but we have recognised that the traditional business model of sailing to the region with thousands of passengers and then simply taking them home again is unsustainable in the long term.

“With growth of this magnitude, it is essential that we work cooperatively to connect cruising and economic opportunity for island communities. In recent years, Carnival Australia has had the privilege of working with organisations with a shared goal of enhancing the South Pacific’s economic wellbeing.”

In a presentation to the Pacific Leaders’ Forum hosted by the Lowy Institute, Sherry highlighted Carnival Australia’s work in the region in partnerships with the Australian Government’s AusAID, the Enterprise Challenge Fund and Australian Business Volunteers.

This includes destination management plans for key destinations in New Caledonia and Vanuatu to support environmentally sustainable cruise ship visits, upgrading of local infrastructure to accommodate cruise ships and assisting island communities to develop tourism related business ventures.

A shore tours business being developed by the Aneityum community in southern Vanuatu, which could become a business model for other island communities, can now move to the next stage because of support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s regional assistance program.

“NZAid’s welcome support will enable the recruitment of a general manager to take the Aneityum community’s shore tours ventureto the next exciting level of development,” Sherry said. “We helped in the purchase of a 40-seat tender boat to allow the community to ferry cruise ship passengers from nearby Mystery Island.

“The general manager role will be to bring together all the facets of the Mystery Island initiative so that the Aneityum community can benefit from its full economic potential. Year one of the three-year appointment will focus on developing the business model while years two and three will concentrate on transferring skills to the local community.”

Sherry said Carnival Australia also looked forward to the outcome of talks involving New Zealand and Australian officials which could lead to hydrographic surveys being carried out to update old navigational charts, some of which dated back to the earliest days of European discovery in the South Pacific.

Updated charts would not only satisfy an international regulatory deadline for the mandatory transition to electronic navigation but also put cruising to the region on a solid foundation for its continued growth and increased economic contribution.