P&O CRUISES’ Pacific Dawn made its maiden calls to Madang and Wewak in February, Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) chief executive Peter Vincent said.

The people of Madang and Wewak have been called upon to embrace cruise tourism development in their respective provinces, TPA said in a statement.

Mr Vincent said these communities could promote tourism in Papua New Guinea by being role models of change by displaying the positive side of the country to international visitors.

Mr Vincent told locals that many of the 2,000 plus tourists on the cruise ship were first time visitors to PNG.

“So let’s unite and show them that we are very friendly and welcoming people so more tourists can continue to come and visit our beautiful country,” he said.

Madang has seen several cruise ships in recent times, but Wewak experienced something new in terms of large numbers of tourists on the ground at any one time.

“We are talking about 2,000 plus tourists and 700 crew all arriving in Wewak for a whole day and this will be something new and exciting for Wewak residents and the whole province,” Mr Vincent said.

TPA said cruise ship development has been taking shape in PNG since the launch of the TPA’s cruise development strategy in 2007 and the subsequent invitation to international cruise tourism brand P&O Cruises to visit PNG starting in Milne Bay in November 2013.

“Through cruise tourism, we wanted to create an image of friendliness and cleanliness so our visitors who are spending eight hours at each location in PNG can appreciate what we can offer as a tourist destination,” Mr Vincent said.

Since P&O Cruises made the first move, other cruise ship companies were now taking an interest in PNG, Mr Vincent said.

With the support of key stakeholders TPA has advanced the development of the cruise sector to East New Britain in 2014 and Madang and Wewak in 2015, with further expansions planned in 2016 to include Ali Island in West Sepik and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Mr Vincent said.

TPA with the support of the National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority organised workshops in Madang and Wewak to educate craft sellers on what types of arts and crafts could be purchased by tourists and taken out of PNG.

“The economic potential and the direct cash income for the local people are enormous with tourists coming in with a lot of cash and returning to the ship with lots of arts and crafts which must be reasonably priced and meet Australian quarantine standards,” he said.