Micronesian Is's prepare for predicted increase in cruise ships
Micronesian islands are set to act on cruise liner feedback to take advantage of tourists' dollar.
The head of a regional tourism organisation says cruise liners are expressing an interest in more remote visits, but small islands need to be ready for them.
The South Pacific Tourism Organisation took a survey with cruise liners in 2011 and is now sending the feedback to local tour agencies in Micronesia.
The CEO, Ilisoni Vuidreketi, says the liners are asking ports to get organised by looking at safety issues and ways to handle tourists.
He spoke to Alex Perrottet.
ILISONI VUIDREKETI: What we've seen is the benefits of cruise shipping to these island countries does filter down to the grassroot communities. Not only are the cruise ships able to bring in a high volume of passengers but also the impact on the ground is quite good because it does not just sit with the big operators, the hoteliers, so local communities do tend to benefit quite a lot from cruise shipping and that is why we have put in our programme how best we can progress.
ALEX PERROTTET: We're talking about the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands, Christmas Island, what are the major problems that some of these small islands are facing?
IV: One of course, there are technical infrastructure problems that we see, and that is, do they have the right port facilities. Not to get one of these ships berthing but rather when the transfer of these cruise ships' passengers on shore, how do they handle them, do they have the proper facilities, so these little transfer boats can come in and take these tourists on shore. And also how can they best organise themselves in terms of local transportation. Are there enough local transport in terms of the buses and taxis that can go on short tours. And also how well-organised are facilities like bar facilities or toilet facilities on the ground.
AP: Now clearly a lot of the cruise ship tourism to these smaller countries, it's going to be a different clientele, people who obviously prefer more ecotourism, going off the beaten track. Are you talking to the cruise liners and are they expressing an interest with more demand for this type of tourism?
IV: Yes we did a survey in 2011 with some of the cruise liners and based on the outcomes of these surveys this is the kind of programmes we have put together. So it's not something that we have thought out but it's based on what the cruise ships are telling us. The cruise ships are saying you need to get the local communities to organise themselves, to look at safety issues, to look at how best they can take advantage of these visiting tourists in terms of the tourists' spend on the ground. And with this, we speak with the cruise liners and then we get the feedback from them and we filter this down to the local communities. We also have, as part of this programme, to assist the local communities in organising themselves, for example, setting up these little committees, like for example, a cruise ship committee for certain ports so that they can be a link with us and with the cruise liners in organising the local communities to receive these cruise liners.
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