A study of Fiji’s cruise industry has recommended the development of five new tourism destinations in the country as part of a solution to lure in more international visitors.
The behemoth 110-page Assessment of the Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism in Fiji study was compiled by the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and the Government of Fiji. It found that while Fiji’s five key ports: Suva, Lautoka, Denarau, Savusavu and Dravuni Island; welcomed close to 240,000 cruise passengers in 2018, the island nation “faces growth limitations due to its location far from its origin ports in Australia”.
According to the latest trends, shorter duration cruises are increasing in popularity and in 2017 the average Australian cruise passenger sailed for 9.1 days, presenting Fiji with a challenge as most sailings to the country require 12-plus day itineraries. The number of big cruise ship (over 1,000 passenger) visits to Fiji in 2019 is forecast to be “about 100”, a decrease on the year prior, however the ships in operation this year are larger in size so cruise visitor numbers are forecast to “remain constant”. According to the report, round-the-world sailings regularly call into Fiji and make up 21% of port calls.
IFC country Manager for the Pacific, Tom Jacobs, said the report found that cruise tourism contributes US$21.4 million (FJ$44.2 million) directly to the Fijian economy and that nearly half (47%) of cruise passengers wanted to spend more time in Fiji “but found that they couldn’t.”
“The study showed the more satisfied passengers are with the variety of things to see, do and buy, the longer they will stay ashore and the more they spend. Tours and excursions, clothing, handicraft, food and beverages are attractive to cruise passengers. This offers an immediate opportunity for the rural women of Fiji who are the largest producers of Fiji’s traditional handicraft.”
Other study insights found that nearly all cruise passengers (96-98%) arriving in Fiji disembarked the ship (the global average is 95%) and they spent between 3.6 and 4.7 hours onshore.
Tourism Opportunity Longlist
The longlist of opportunities included:
- improving port facilities in Suva
- improving port facilities in Lautoka
- improving existing cruise tourism experiences
- developing new cruise tourism destinations
- improving information to passengers
- promoting employment opportunities for Fijian on cruise ships
- provisioning of fresh produce on cruise ships
- regulating training of tour guides
- hydrographic chartering for all of Fiji
Of these, the development of new cruise tourism destinations at Yasawa, Taveuni, Vanua Levu, Levuka and Kadavu would generate the largest volume of direct benefits, estimated to be in the realms of US$20 million.
Following consultation with Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, the longlist was refined to seven possible initiatives that could stem to an extra US$44 million to the Fijian economy over the next 10 years. They are:
- Provisioning of fresh Fijian produce on cruise ships
- Improving information provision to passengers and sector coordination
- Improving existing cruise tourism experiences
- Developing new cruise tourism destinations in Fiji
- Developing a handicraft program to provide employment opportunities for Fijians
- Redeveloping the Suva port
- Converting an area of Lautoka port into a passenger hub
To view the full study, click here.
Lead image credit: Yasawa Island Resort & Spa