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Cruise ship comes to town

One element of tourism that we have had little involvement in is the cruise ship. There are visits scheduled to come to Ambrym over the course of this year with two having been already.

Our work has focused more on ecotourism and bringing small groups to Ambrym but when the cruise ship was scheduled to come recently we offered to help out. The cruise ship that visited Ranon is owned by National Geographic and you could say it caters for the ‘top end’ of the cruise ship market. 100 weatlhy guests (mostly well educated retirees from the US) and 60 crew had been around the Pacific for a few months seeing a whole stack of cultural and natural wonders before coming to Ambrym.

The purpose of their Ambrym visit was to see the Rom Dance.

With all the big preparations already taken care of, our only task was to settle the nerves of the tour guides who would be interpreting the Rom to the curious tourists. We have developed a good working relationship with the guides in our tour guide training workshops and although they were nervous we assured them all would be well as they knew their stuff.

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(The string share a joke while in the background the dancers assemble before a big crowd)

In the end the day proved to be a success with many in the community having an opportunity to earn income through selling handicrafts, dancing or being guides.

The highlight for the kids was a zodiac ride. The cruise boat crew were generous enough to offer swarms of kids joy rides out to their cruise ship and back.

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(Kids scramble to the shore after their joy ride)

For us it was great to see our guides in action and hear plenty of positive praise from the visitors and local community about their work.

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(Pippa showing the kids a National Geographic magazine which was a gift from cruise ship staff)

The big question – Are cruise ships good for the community?

From our point of view the income generated from the visit is sorely needed in the community, particularly when it comes to school fees. Even if the guides just spend their earnings on Kava, the money trickles back through the community as most families are involved in growing and selling the Kava plant.

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The impact of the visitors on local culture on face value seems minimal. The visitors are retirees who dress conservatively and come to view the culture for a few hours and then they leave. There is never more than 100 people, and they more or less stay in the area of the Rom dance on the edge of Ranon village so the place doesn’t seem overwhelmed by people when the guests arrive.

The main down side that we can see is jealously arising because some people benefit a lot more than others from the cruise ship visits. In particular the event organizer and the land owners receive a lot more income than the dancers and people who are selling handy crafts.

So on balance we would say the cruise ships are good for the local community however we are currently setting up a tourism task force that will include in its work monitoring the impact of tourism.

Posted by pippamatt 16:24

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Comments

The work you are doing sounds amazing and if you can set up the proceedures so all can benifit would we a "wonderful world". The people seem so happy and to make the visits sustainable i assume it takes time, and a lot of communication.

by kathryn

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