Operator of the biggest cruise ships in this region Royal Caribbean will spend millions of dollars on a private beach destination in Vanuatu that it has leased for 75 years.
The cruise line is developing 145ha of Lelepa, where early series of Survivor were filmed, and which is being touted as the first carbon neutral cruise destination in the world.
Royal Caribbean managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Gavin Smith says the aim is partly to take pressure off small ports but to give passengers a better beach day experience for all passengers. Up to 5000 passengers could go ashore during the day, which the company believes it will be able to charge a premium for on cruise tickets.
There are similar beach clubs in the Caribbean for cruise companies but this is the first of its kind in the South Pacific.
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''We're looking to create a memorable and curated experience in Vanuatu. It's going to be what we call a perfect day - a great day at the beach for families and couples.''
There would be local food and beverage, cultural displays, activities for kids and for extra cost; spa treatments and fine dining.
The cruise line had worked with local tribes and leaders for two and a half years. Building restaurants, pools and other facilities should be finished by 2022.
Foreigners weren't allowed to own land in Vanuatu and there had been ''a lot of discussion'' with about 500 to 600 people who have land title in the area which is not farmed or fished but ideal for tourism, says Smith.
Smith says the cost of the project hadn't been fixed but it was likely to be the largest private investment in Vanuatu.
It would not mean ships would skip other port stops.
''What we're going to do is provide a contrasting experience. We will visit Port Vila so will give that down town experience and then will they can have an island experience.''
The company was installing 40,000 solar panels to generate electricity and 150 people would be employed on the days when ships were calling.
From the beginning go there about 100 times a year and then build to doubling that over the next decade.
Passengers would be taken by tender to Lelepa but Royal was also investigating whether it could build a pier to make it easier.
Cox Architecture, which has recently done work around Sydney's Taronga Zoo, is the lead architect on the project.
''They've already done a lot of work with locals to design buildings that are considerate of Melanesian culture. They will use local materials, there'll be a local look and feel,'' says Smith.
''Aussies and Kiwis want to come ashore to the Melanesian experience - they don't want to come ashore to the Hilton Hotel.''
Rebekah Ochiai, a Flight Centre cruise specialist said Royal Caribbean was catering for eco-conscious tourists.
They have put a lot of research into finding out what would appeal to the Pacific market. Royal Caribbean has an island experience in the Bahamas (A Perfect Day in Cococay), and it would seem they have taken this concept and adapted it for more of a local, down-to-earth and cultural island experience,'' she says.
"It's a great option for customers who love to cruise but are looking for some beach time off the ship, without battling crowds of tourists, as traffic to the island can be managed.''
Smith said his company would be promoting that island globally as a special destination.
''The Government of Vanuatu not spending a lot on tourism as dependent on air lift out of Auckland and Sydney but this stands to be a substantial tourism and marketing investment.''