‘SIPA has drawn up major plans to modernise the Honiara wharf in order to attract and persuade large passenger shipping lines to include the Solomon Islands as part of their South Pacific programmes,’ Waetara said.
‘Many of our neighbours benefit from international cruise traffic and the positive impact it has on the local economy -- from hotels, transportation providers and food and beverage suppliers to local cultural groups and craftsmen.
‘It is time for the Solomon Islands to share in these benefits.’
Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau ceo Josefa Tuamoto is backing Waetara 100 per cent, describing plans to upgrade the Honiara wharf as ‘extremely timely.’
Tuamoto said global passenger numbers will hit 21.7m this year, ‘with 55% emanating from a North American market hungry for new international cruise destinations.’
He said benefits for the local tourism industry would be ‘exponential’ if the Solomon Islands attracted just a small percentage of the nearly 800,000 Australians and New Zealanders who cruise the South Pacific every year.
A spokesman for the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau said the last large cruise ship to call at Honiara was Holland America Line’s Amsterdam in November last year with 917 passengers.
The spokesman said Paul Gauguin visited in June with a full complement of 330.
The Solomon Islands is not yet a member of the South Pacific Cruise Alliance which joined CLIA Australasia earlier this year and showcased its eight member countries and territories -- American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tahiti and the Kingdom of Tonga -- at Cruise Shipping Miami 2014.