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FIJI TIMES ONLINE Saturday, May 30, 2009

THERE'S a huge potential for cruise visitors to Fiji after a 613 per cent jump in arrivals last year compared to 2007. The figures released by the Bureau of Statistics show 17,371 cruise visitors arrived in Fiji in 2008 compared to 2435 in 2007. In 2006, there were no cruise liners visiting our ports. Cruise shipping is becoming more ideal for international travellers because it is cheaper than airline travel and they get to visit many countries on a trip. Tourism Fiji chairman Patrick Wong said cruise shipping was an important component of the tourism industry but there was a need to further develop attractions such as shopping and eco-tours.

"We need to have more sites, new adventures and more activities for tourists to interact with our people," Mr Wong said. "Our biggest asset is our people.

"We are looking at working more with people in remote areas and showcase that Fiji is not only sun, sea and sand."

In the South Pacific, cruise ship visitors are estimated to have spent about $63billion between 2007 and 2008.

The countries to have received the most cruise visits were French Polynesia, Vanuatu and Kiribati.

While French Polynesia is the only mature destination in the region, Fiji is more interesting, has excellent marketing appeal and good berthing facilities.

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