Preparations are well underway in Tonga for the arrival of the Sea Princess in Nuku’alofa on the 7 September this year, the first port of call on a 36 day cruise, bringing 1,950 passengers to Tonga’s main island Tongatapu.
A 2 day Pacific Port Preparedness Workshop was held in Tonga last week, with the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour in collaboration with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation helping Tonga’s Cruise Steering Committee draw up a short term strategy to ready Tonga to receive the Sea Princess.
The Committee says it is gearing up to offer an exciting programme for the Sea Princess on the cruise day that will ensure visitors get the best experience which is truly Tongan and uniquely the true South Pacific, with exciting things to look out for including the welcome programme at the Vuna wharf and thrilling activities and tours that are said will captivate and keep the visitors entertained on the day.
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”.
However she emphasized, “Ensuring the benefits from the cruise market are maximized, hinges on a successful multi-sectoral partnership between all of the stakeholders.”
“The Government and the Ministry cannot do it on their own…Together, we can do it”.
The Chairman of the Tonga Cruise Steering Committee, Steve Edwards encouraged the Committee members during the second day workshop to work on a united front in creating that wow factor for the Sea Princess’s arrival on the 7th of September, reiterating that with the dedicated Vuna cruise wharf, Tonga is already set apart from other Pacific Island ports and needs to capitalize on this key factor and enhance the onshore experiences available through activities and tours.
The 2 day Pacific Port Preparedness workshop is reported to have been a great success and it 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 along with private sector partners from port and shipping agencies, tour operators, passenger transport operators and retailers.
The workshop was implemented under the European Union's Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP) and facilitated by the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) in collaboration with the Tonga Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labour.
The next Pacific Port Preparedness workshop will be carried out in the Cook Islands on the 20th and 21st of August, followed by Fiji, with Sydney based company Nautic Consulting again delivering the workshops.