CRUISE passengers docked in Rabaul, East New Britain Province, have been interviewed about potential tours and excursions as part of efforts to strengthen local tourism.

Supported by the Australian Government in partnership with Carnival Australia and The Difference Incubator, YuMi Tourism Partners is an initiative being rolled out across the South Pacific region to assist tourism entrepreneurs build their business models to fit the needs of customers.

Michael Mihajlov from Carnival Australia said passengers want “meaningful, authentic, personal experiences,” with the knowledge they are also supporting sustainable development – “if local communities benefit from our visit, they are going to want us to come back.”

Around 20 local tourism operators based in Rabaul and Kokopo pitched a range of tours and activities to passengers during a P&O cruise visit on Sunday 24 November. Tourism ideas covered both land and sea-based activities, such as volcano and military history tours, handicraft demonstrations and sales, and fishing, canoeing and snorkelling.

One of the tourism operators, David Lolok, said “it was a privilege and satisfying. These situations require a bit of extra sacrifice and effort to be a part of, but it is so worth it.”

In addition to one-day interviews with cruise ship passengers, tourism entrepreneurs also participated in a series of workshops and individual coaching sessions to strengthen their business models. Support to Rabaul follows the success of the YuMi Tourism Partners pilot program in Alotau, Milne Bay Province, and other cruise ship destinations in Vanuatu.

Anthea Smits, CEO of The Difference Incubator based in Melbourne, Australia said the main aim of the program is to create pathways for Papua New Guinean tour operators to build their businesses and become suppliers for Carnival Australia.

“The program is around helping local entrepreneurs get cruise-ready and to develop a new product or service that has great potential for tourists, so cruise passengers visiting Rabaul have unique activities and tours to choose from,” she said.