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By Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (September 7, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Forum Shipping International Agencies has announced an expanding cruise ship season for Samoa next year.

Local manager Norman Macdonald said 13 cruise ship visits to Apia from P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises have already been confirmed.

In previous years Samoa has averaged seven cruise ships a year.

"We are expecting an additional three other ships to visit Samoa," said Mr. Macdonald.

"These visits are unprecedented and the impact on the tourism industry in Samoa will be exciting for all involved.

"Especially with the foreign exchange earned from it."

One of the ships that will visit Samoa twice next year is the Pacific Sky. Formerly known as the Sea Princess, this ship was the setting of The Love Boat TV series.

According to Mr. Macdonald, the importance of these initial visits is "to promote sustainability" by ensuring Samoa provides what the cruise companies expect.

This translates to clean tourist facilities, efficient customer services and enough clean water for ships to take out.

Mr. Macdonald pointed out that a sticking point in negotiating these visits is that cruise liners have made it a criterion that 300 tons of water must be able to be supplied.

"The obvious reasons for tourists frequenting the Pacific is the global repercussions of the September 11 attacks," he said.

The terrorist attacks on America have not only prompted some tourists to prefer sea travel to air travel but also have made the Pacific seem a safe haven for holidays.

In addition, Mr. Macdonald pointed to two projects that would greatly attract these cruise ships along with the benefits they bring Samoa. These are the extension of the Apia wharf and the Beach Road enhancement project that will give the Apia waterfront a new face-lift.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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