25 Nov 2013

Cruise liner generates good publicity for PNG's Milne Bay

5:48 pm on 25 November 2013

Tourism operators in Papua New Guinea's Milne Bay says the maiden visit to the province of a large cruise ship has generated good publicity for the area.

An 11-deck Carnival cruise liner made its first stop in the capital, Alotau, earlier this month.

Beverley Tse has more:

Guests aboard the Pacific Dawn which is operated by P&O Cruises, were greeted with a rousing welcome by excited residents of Alotau and visitors from other parts of PNG. The event coincided with the opening of the US$17 million Alotau Wharf and the annual canoe festival, which were attended by the Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and other government ministers. One of those in the crowd at Alotau was Dinah Halstead, who says there was great anticipation for the ship's arrival.

"DINAH HALSTEAD: It was so exciting. About four o'clock in the morning you could see this big ship coming through with all it's lights on. And there were village people all along the coast, up early to see this ship come through."

A former journalist from Milne Bay, Peter Niesi, says the arrival of the ocean liner has been good for the local economy.

PETER NIESI: You can imagine what kind of spending would have taken place in terms of purchases of artefacts and use of transport to move around the urban centre. So I would imagine that a lot of money would have been spent and that would have boosted the little province's economy just a little bit more.

The manager of the Milne Bay Provincial Tourism Bureau, Maxine Nadile, says the visit was a success but there were challenges with providing transport for the tourists to the canoe festival and memorial sites in Alotau.

MAXINE NADILE: We need to look at getting more buses here. So transportation of tourists is something that needs to be looked at in future. But other than that we've still managed to co-ordinate transportation and shuttles.

She says the occasion has been a boost for local tourism and has created good exposure for Milne Bay.

MAXINE NADILE: The reality is in the past in a lot of our provinces here in Papua New Guinea there's very little attention towards provincial tourism bureaus. So tourism has not always been a priority but definitely with the arrival of Carnival and the focus and development of cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea, and in particular Milne Bay, this will become a catalyst for greater interest and greater focus and priority for tourism.

Maxine Nadile says another six cruise liners are expected to visit Milne Bay next year and this number is expected to rise in subsequent years.