Address to Carnival Cruise reception and launch of economic impact study of cruise tourism in Vanuatu

  • Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

I acknowledge the presence here of the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Prime Minister Natuman, and his Ministers - particularly his Foreign Minister Kilman, who has become a friend of mine after we met in Canberra, we took pictures of ourselves and tweeted them… we're "tweet friends".

To Ann Sherry, the CEO of Carnival Australia and Rachel Kyte, Vice-President of the World Bank, and to all the friends of Australia, friends of Vanuatu, thank you for being here tonight.

The stars have really aligned tonight for this launch because I can't think of a better place than a cruise ship to talk about an Economic Study on the Impact of Cruise Tourism in Vanuatu.

This is just a delightful venue to talk about the importance of tourism to the South Pacific generally, but in particular to Vanuatu.

Thank you for that delightful surprise of the Ni-Vanuatu crew who sang their national anthem so beautifully. It really gave a tingle to my spine listening to those glorious voices.

Indeed Samoa is also to be congratulated on hosting such a magnificent event as the Small Islands Developing States Conference.

What a great place also for us to launch this study - also in the South Pacific - which is becoming an increasingly popular place for tourists.

The beautiful pristine islands that are here are a magnet for tourists from around the world. Australians and New Zealanders particularly love being able to take holidays in and cruise throughout the South Pacific - and Vanuatu is a favourite destination.

In recent months the Australian Government has been talking about an overarching principle that we apply to our international engagement and that is "economic diplomacy".

Essentially we're talking about using all of our assets in our international engagement to promote economic growth - not only in Australia but of course with our friends, neighbours and partners.

We want to see more two-way trade, more investment opportunities, more job opportunities in Australia, in our region, because economic diplomacy leads to greater prosperity, prosperity leads to stability and peace and that's what we want for our region – a peaceful, prosperous, safe and secure region.

We are also focusing on getting economic outcomes from our aid program. Australia is the largest provider of development assistance funds into the Pacific and we want to make sure that these funds are driving economic growth. Growth is what lifts standards of living and that's what reduces poverty – giving people the opportunity to be more economically resilient and more self-reliant. We're using our aid budget in ways that we hope leads to sustainable economic growth. That means working in economic partnerships with other Governments but also with NGOs and, importantly, the private sector. How appropriate was it that yesterday we had an opening discussion on the role of the private sector in driving economic growth in Small Island Developing nations.

It's natural - given that we're focusing on economic outcomes, we're focusing on job opportunities, we're focusing on lifting standards of living and reducing poverty - that Australia would look to partner with the private sector.

Our engagement with the private sector is exemplified by the relationship we have with Carnival Australia and I want to thank Ann Sherry for her enthusiasm, her energy and her willingness to be a part of the Australian Government's agenda to work in the Pacific in a very positive way.

Last year Australia and Carnival Australia entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to cruises to Vanuatu in particular.

We've seen the results from working together and mentioned a couple of them - that is the Vanuatu bottled water that is now on the cruises into Vanuatu; and coffee, another product from Vanuatu that will be put into the supply chain by Carnival Australia.

Given that we were focusing on Vanuatu, we knew that data was hard to come by to prove our case. So with a partnership with the World Bank through the International Finance Corporation, with Carnival Australia and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we set about getting the economic data to prove what we knew to be the case - that is, the tourism industry and the cruising industry in particular is vital to economic growth in Vanuatu.

The result is the Assessment of the Economic Impact of Cruise Ships to Vanuatu, a document you can download. And it's the partnership between DFAT, Carnival Australia and the International Finance Corporation.

As Prime Minister Natuman indicated, the results are overwhelming. In 2013 the cruise industry brought almost $35 million to the economy of Vanuatu in direct expenditures; that's the passengers, the crew and the cruise company's spending money in Vanuatu. There was about $90 million in indirect impact.

Each cruise ship brings an average of $257,000 dollars in spending to the economy of Vanuatu. Each cruise passenger spends about $125.

This translates into roughly 3000 jobs for Ni-Vanuatu and I think that is a tremendous boost to Vanuatu. And I'm just delighted that these results are set out here in this Assessment of the Economic Impact of the Cruise Industry in Vanuatu.

Building on what we know of the economic benefits, the Australian Government and Carnival Australia are moving on to the second phase of our relationship.

I'm delighted to announce tonight that we will be embarking on another initiative in Vanuatu and that will be about ensuring Ni-Vanuatu are job ready for working in the cruise industry.

We are working with the Australian Pacific Technical College and Vanuatu Institute of Technology to run programs that will enable students to gain the skills necessary to work in the cruising industry.

So with these specific programs to up skill young people from Vanuatu, they will be job ready for the opportunities as they arise with Carnival Australia.

We think that this program could be expanded for other cruise lines for other Pacific Island Nations so we use the Vanuatu example as a blueprint if you like. And we hope to start the pilot program with 100 students.

This will provide much needed opportunities for young people in this region.

I'm delighted first to confirm the evidence and then secondly the policies that can be based on the evidence and launch a readiness program this afternoon.

Thank you very much for being here.

It's an important example of partnerships, an important example of practical outcomes that impact on people's lives.

Not only will young people in Vanuatu have these opportunities but the tourists will be receiving services at a high standard and high quality.

That reflects well on Vanuatu. It reflects well on the Pacific.

Media enquiries