Kingdom readies to welcome Princess


Tonga, the South Pacific’s only kingdom that has recently rebranded itself as the “True South Pacific” is preparing for the arrival of cruiseliner Sea Princess to the shores of its capital Nuku’alofa on on September 7. <!--more-->The luxury liner will bring 1950 passengers to Tonga’s main island Tongatapu.

The country is new to the cruise industry, which has been seeing runaway growth acros the world. Cruise prices have plummetted over the past few years, bringing the experience of the high seas within reach of a vast number of travellers who hitherto shied away because of high prices.

Tonga not only improved its infrastructure to welcome larger cruise ships in preparation for the influx of more passengers but also participated in training programmes to upskill its tourism and hospitality human resources.

One of these was the Pacific Port Preparedness Workshop that the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour in collaboration with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation held in Tonga recently. It aided the Tonga Cruise Steering Committee in drawing up a short-term strategy in readying Tonga to receive this vessel.

In line with priority areas highlighted by participants at the two-day workshop, the Committee is gearing up on a refreshed and exciting programme for the Sea Princess on the cruise day that will ensure visitors get the best experience that is truly Tongan. The workshop included 65 participants from Tonga’s government departments and authorities relating to tourism, infrastructure, transport, immigration and customs, police, quarantine, health, labour, commerce, and local port authorities; and private sector partners specifically port and shipping agencies, tour operators, passenger transport operators and retailers.

The Sea Princess will grace Nuku’alofa on September 7 as its first port of call along its 36 day cruise. As the Acting CEO of the Ministry of Tourism, Moana Taukolo, said in her opening address at the workshop, “every time one of the 20 or so cruise ships visits, the local population benefits – including the handicraft producers, transport sector, tour operators, hospitality industry, water sports operators, offshore island resorts, food vendors and the country as a whole”.