Tonga eyes Australian cruise market


<p style="text-align: justify;">Now that it has a wharf big enough to berth large cruise liners, Tonga is actively looking at boosting cruise ship numbers to its shores.<!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Vuna Wharf that opened late in 2011 has already put the nation’s capital Nuku’alofa on the itineraries of some 17 cruise liners, which will visit the South Pacific’s only kingdom this year.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">As reported in Pacific Periscope in the February 8, 2013 edition, of the 17 cruise ships, 13 will call in Nuku’alofa, five in Vava’u and one each in Niuatoputapu, Niuafo’ou and Ha’apai. Though the bulk of cruise liners calling at Tongan ports come from Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the United States of America, this year a cruise ship from Italy, the Costa, was expected to berth in Nuku’alofa in November.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Some of these cruise ships are expected to visit Tongan ports twice this year. A new wharf and cruise steering committee is to help develop Tonga as a cruise destination.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Last week, Dr Viliami Latu, Tonga’s Minister of Commerce, Tourism and Labour and Alisi Kautoke Holani, Deputy Secretary – Policy, visited Sydney to meet with cruise operators to promote Tonga as a destination and to find out what the country needed to do to develop a more active and profitable cruise shipping sector. The meetings with cruise operators will also inform the development of the Tongan Cruise Shipping Strategy which is to be written in the coming months.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Tim Martin, Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest’s Executive Manager – Investment and Tourism in Sydney escorted the minister and deputy secretary during their visit to the city and facilitated meetings with various cruise operators including Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Orion Cruises.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">PT&amp;I was pleased to hear that the mission was deemed a success by the Ministry in Tonga, and received the following email that said, “I just wanted to once again thank you, on behalf of the Minister and the Ministry, for your hospitality and support during our time in Sydney.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">“The visit was a great success and we owe much of it to you and PT&amp;I Australia. Thank you once again for all your help and we look forward to further exchanges in the future on how we can progress cruise developments in Tonga.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">PT&amp;I looks forward to further assisting the Tongan Government in developing its cruise ship sector.</p>