Solomons 4Building on its potential as an exciting new destination for the international cruise market, the Solomon Islands will welcome eight cruise visits in 2016, a 100 per cent increase on its 2015 cruise schedule.

Vessels visiting Honiara and cruising within the 992-island archipelago this year include Princess Cruises Lines’ Sea Princess and Dawn Princess, Noble Caledonia’s Caledonia Sky, Silverseas Cruises’ Silver Discoverer, P&O’s Pacific Eden and Seabourn Cruise Lines’ Seabourn Odyssey.

Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau chief executive Josefa Tuamoto attributed the increase to the efforts of the national tourist office along with government and local private sector support to turn what he described as a “huge potential into a reality”.

Tuamoto also pointed toward a recent visit to Sydney by outgoing Ministry of Culture & Tourism permanent secretary, John Wasi and representatives from the Department of Tourism, the SIVB and the Solomon Islands Port Authority, which he said had played a major role in the outcome.

In Sydney the Solomon Islands delegation met with several key cruise industry players, specialist wholesaler and retailer representatives and media as part of a concerted effort to turn the spotlight on the Solomon Islands’ potential as a cruise destination.

“Tourism is fast emerging as a major driver for the country’s GDP, and the government has embarked on a very vigorous process to seize on the opportunity tourism presents,” said Tuamoto.

“We were determined to turn this potential into a hard reality and that is exactly what we are seeing in 2016.”

That upward trend is likely to continue in 2017, with Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, Paul Gauguin, announcing the Solomon Islands will be part of its program next year.

Its 16-night Fiji to Bali voyage, departing April 29, 2017 from Lautoka, Fiji, will include the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons on its itinerary (as well as on the return trip, departing Bali on June 7, 2017).

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