Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific and the first in the world to sell its locally made products onboard P & O cruise liners.

According to a media release the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting Vanuatu’s businesses to sell handicrafts, cosmetics, and food products on board P&O cruise ships visiting Vanuatu.

“In a world first, Australia’s leading cruise line is trialing the sale of locally-made goods, creating greater economic opportunities for the island’s businesses and communities.’

The trial began on P&O’s Pacific Aria yesterday and will be progressively introduced across the cruise line’s entire five-ship fleet in 2017.

‘The initiative forms part of IFC’s broader partnership with Carnival Australia, which represents P&O Cruises Australia, and the Australian government. The partnership began in 2014 with IFC undertaking an economic-impact study of the cruise sector in Vanuatu. The findings were significant: cruise passenger, company, and crew-spending amounted to 10 percent of Vanuatu’s total annual exports.

The report prioritized initiatives to grow cruising’s impact, with local supplying listed as one of the most beneficial activities to increase value from the sector. IFC, in partnership with P&O Cruises, has since worked with businesses and P&O’s onboard retailer, Harding Retail, to explore opportunities to host Vanuatu products on board.’

“It can be difficult for Vanuatu businesses to get their goods to market due to its location in the Pacific,” said Tom Jacobs, IFC Pacific Country Manager. “By retailing products on board, up to 2,000 passengers can buy these products during this trial, in turn boosting incomes of businesses, farmers, and handicraft-makers.”

According to the release, Harding Retail chose suppliers based on their knowledge of demand and experience in selling products to 20 of the world’s top cruise brands. Initial suppliers include Venui Vanilla, Tanna Coffee, Tanna Farms, Volcanic Earth, Summit Gardens, ACTIV Association, and Pandanus.

“Products include handicrafts, jewelry, lotions, spices, coffee, and chocolate. Vanuatu-themed pop-up stands on the cruise ships will promote and sell the products. Products may change as the retailer becomes more familiar with the sorts of products that guests purchase throughout the trial.”

P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said the cruise line values its long and harmonious relationship with Vanuatu and its people. “We are proud to trial the sale of locally-made products onboard the P&O fleet because it is about supporting local vendors and the community by creating opportunities from cruise tourism where the benefits are shared,” he said. “Many of these vendors either employ local people or source materials from local communities to make their products. Giving our guests the opportunity to purchase local-made products raises the profile of Vanuatu as a destination and the skill of its people.”

“The Australian Government seeks to foster links between Australian and Vanuatu businesses,” said Jeremy Bruer, Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu. “Showcasing Vanuatu-made products to Australian consumers will help create economic opportunities for local businesses and also showcase Vanuatu’s rich culture and diverse products.” READ MORE