On this shop-lined street in Suva, Fiji, shipping supplies could be found, imports and exports organised, and cakes, sweets and other food bought. The photographer, Alfred Burton, was travelling on one of the earliest tourist cruises in the Pacific, in 1884. The Union Steam Ship Company's Wairarapa went from Auckland to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
By the later 20th century tourism was an important part of many Pacific Island economies, and numbers travelling from New Zealand to the Pacific increased substantially. Many were members of the New Zealand-based or -born Pacific community travelling home, but other New Zealanders also took advantage of cheap airfares and a comparatively strong New Zealand dollar. Between 1999 and 2008 numbers going to the Cook Islands in particular grew spectacularly, from 13,000 in 1999 to nearly 54,000 in 2008. While visitors to the Cooks increased fastest, Fiji remained the most popular destination in the Pacific. However, visitor numbers fluctuated according to the island nation's political stability, with a low point of 49,000 in 2001 and a high of 110,000 in 2006.
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