Over the weekend, P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel became the first cruise ship to visit Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste.
Carnival Australia CEO, Ann Sherry, has hailed the visit as a significant step forward and a sign the country is progressing as a free, independent nation.
“After years of struggle, Timor-Leste finally won its independence only in 2002, but even five years ago few could have imagined nearly 2,000 cruise tourists going ashore in Dili,” she said.
“Australia has strong ties to Timor-Leste on its path to nationhood and there is no doubt that Australians have been willing the Timorese people and their country to succeed. So, the arrival of the first cruise ship is an affirmation of Timor-Leste’s potential as an attractive cruise destination and the part tourism can play to build its economy.”
Pacific Jewel’s call into Dili – made during her return from dry dock and major refurbishment in Singapore – was an opportunity to test the city’s capacity to host a superliner visit and was eagerly anticipated by the Dili community.
On the eve of Saturday’s visit, former Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, who since 2007 has been a special adviser to the Timor-Leste Prime Minister, said it sent a powerful signal about the country’s progress.
“Having hundreds of cruise visitors come ashore in Dili to experience the sights, sounds and culture of Timor-Leste is another positive stepping stone in the country’s progress as a free and independent nation,” he said.
“Pacific Jewel’s visit to Dili has been keenly anticipated by the government and the local community who are keen to make tourism a much valued feature of the local economy in a country that has so much to offer visitors in cultural experiences. It will also be an enriching experience for the cruise visitors who will no doubt come away with memories that will last a lifetime.”
The cruise liner’s call into Dili is consistent with Carnival Australia’s efforts in recent years to open up new cruise destinations in countries such as Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“In addition to taking our passengers to otherwise remote destinations offering fabulous scenery and cultural experiences, cruise tourism can become a valuable part of island economies,” Ms Sherry said. “I hope that Timor-Leste’s potential to take its place on the cruising map can be realised.”
A second P&O Cruises’ call to Timor-Leste is scheduled for September 2016 when Pacific Eden will visit Dili.
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