Tourism plays a major role on Pitcairn. Tourism is the focus for building the economy. It focuses on small groups coming by charter vessel and staying at “home stays”. About ten times a year, passengers from expedition-type cruise ships come ashore for a day, weather permitting. As of 2019, the government has been operating the MV Silver Supporter as the island’s only dedicated passenger/cargo vessel, providing adventure tourism holidays to Pitcairn every week. Tourists stay with local families and experience the island’s culture while contributing to the local economy. Providing accommodation is a growing source of revenue, and some families have invested in private self-contained units adjacent to their homes for tourists to rent.
Entry requirements for short stays, up to 14 days, which do not require a visa, and for longer stays, that do require prior clearance, are explained in official documents. All persons under 16 years of age require prior clearance before landing, irrespective of the length of stay.
Crafts and external sales:
The major sources of revenue have been the sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors, .pn domain names, and the sale of handicrafts to passing ships, most of which are on the United Kingdom to New Zealand route via the Panama Canal. The Pitcairn Islands issued their first stamp in 1940. These became very popular with stamp collectors, and their sale became the dominant source of revenue for the community. Profits went into a general fund which enabled the island to be mostly self-sufficient. This fund was used to meet the regular needs of the community, and pay wages. Funds in excess of regular expenses were used to build a school and hire a teacher from New Zealand, the first professional teacher hired on the island. The fund was also used to subsidize imports and travel to New Zealand. At later points, the sale of coins and .pn domain names also contributed to the fund. Towards the end of the 20th century, as writing letters became less common and stamp collecting became less popular, revenue for the fund declined. In 2004 the island went bankrupt, with the British government subsequently providing 90% of its annual budget.
All settlers of the Pitcairn Islands arrived by boat or ship. Pitcairn Island does not have an airport, airstrip or seaport; the islanders rely on longboats to ferry people and goods between visiting ships and shore through Bounty Bay. Access to the rest of the shoreline is restricted by jagged rocks. The island has one shallow harbor with a launch ramp accessible only by small longboats. A medical emergency requiring transport to a hospital in Papeete involved a 335 nautical mile (540 km) trip in an open boat to the island of Mangareva, then an air ambulance flight 975 nautical miles (1570 km) to Papeete. It was organized by medical authorities in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and French authorities in Mangareva and Papeete. The British High Commissioner to New Zealand said “It can be a hazardous sea voyage from Pitcairn to Mangareva. This is especially so for open long boats. However, I’m pleased to say that all went well and both boats arrived safely in Mangareva mid-morning today, New Zealand time.”