Greater cooperation in Pacific cruise development

The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the South Pacific Cruise Alliance (SPCA) for greater cooperation on the development of the cruise tourism industry in the greater Pacific Islands region.

SPCA is a private and public sector cruise alliance made up of members from American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa and Tonga.

SPCA has, for the past six years, organised and coordinated the Pacific’s attendance at Seatrade Cruise Global, the cruise industry’s premier global event. SPTO would like to thank the SPCA for their conscientious efforts in coordinating the Pacific’s attendance at Seatrade in the past six years.

Held yearly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in March, Seatrade brings together every facet of the business including cruise lines, suppliers, travel agents and partners. Globally, the cruise industry carries approximately 21 million passengers per year.

Global cruise tourism is a US $50 billion industry accounting for about 24.2 million cruise visitors, based on total of forward bookings for 2016. In 2017, 1 million jobs will be generated and complemented by an addition of 200,000 new passenger berths. Under the new agreement, SPTO, with the support of SPCA will take the lead in coordinating Pacific Island countries’ attendance at Seatrade , starting 2018. 

As the leader in tourism marketing and development for the region, SPTO aims to collaborate with key cruise industry partners, government and private sector members such as SPCA to open up opportunities for existing and new cruise destinations in the Pacific and better coordinate priority areas of marketing and development under the Pacific Cruise Tourism Development Strategy (2015 – 2019), for the benefit of its members.

As the peak mandated body for tourism development and marketing in 16 Pacific Island Countries, SPTO will work towards greater representation of its members at this key industry event. In addition, SPTO will work with its Pacific Islands member governments towards creating enabling environments for the further development of cruise tourism industries.

The Pacific cruise industry has grown by 43% in the last three years and currently generates around US$640 million per year for the region. New Caledonia and Vanuatu lead the charge, making up 78% of the total number of cruise visits in the South Pacific.

The latest available figures (2015) show of the 799 calls in the region, New Caledonia had 429, Vanuatu 256 and Fiji 115.

Cruise tourism is an emerging industry in other Pacific Island countries like Tonga, where the Vuna Port in Nuku’alofa has recently undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade and is attracting more visiting cruise vessels.

Samoa is gearing towards further improvements to the Apia wharf and French Polynesia plans to build a new cruise port terminal by 2020. Small Island States such as Tuvalu and Kiribati, which currently receive one or two visiting cruise ships a year, would benefit from the further development of cruise expeditions, involving smaller cruise ships with high yield and low impact cruise visitors.

Cruise ships bring a much-needed source of additional employment and income to remote communities by linking travellers to outer islands that are not as easily accessed by air.

Further, the cruise tourism sector presents opportunities for greater labour mobility in the Pacific. 

SPTO’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Cocker attended Seatrade Cruise Global 2017 along with a number of key stakeholders from the Pacific cruise industry.

SPTO is currently implementing the Pacific Cruise Tourism Development Strategy 2015 – 2019 in partnership with cruise liners and private sector partners.

Based in Suva, SPTO works with 16 Pacific island countries and Timor- Leste to market and develop tourism in the South Pacific region. About SPTO - Established in 1983 as the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is the mandated organisation representing Tourism in the region. Its 18 Government members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the People’s Republic of China. In addition to government members, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation enlists a private sector membership base.

For more information, contact: Alisi Lutu, Marketing Manager South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Email: or +679 3304177

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