The team from the Solomon Islands Visitors Board (SIVB) have had a busy week this week, meeting with travel agents around Australia, drumming up business for this fast-emerging tourism destination.
Key members of the SIVB team, including chairman Wilson Ne’e, Freda Unusi, Stella Lucas and recently appointed Australian marketing representative Richard Skewes, celebrated the Pacific nation’s year on year growth as they wrapped up another successful tourism roadshow, with a media presentation at Café Del Mare in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Chairman Wilson Ne’e announced to media that the Solomons had enjoyed over seven per cent growth, year on year, in both 2015 and 2016, with a record 23,192 international visitors in the period January to December 2016.
“Compared to our near neighbours that might not seem to be too many people – but you need remember all our visitors come by invitation only. It’s the only way you can get in,” he joked.
Australians led the way, with close to 10,000 Aussies visiting the Solomons in 2016, 41.1 per cent of total arrivals.
“As a growing travel destination, we continue to hold huge appeal for this market with our unique living culture, our amazing diving, fishing, surfing and the backpacker and flashpacker markets.
“And let’s not forget our WWII history – this is the place where freedom was born in the South Pacific, where the Aussies joined with the US forces to turn the Japanese tide in the Guadalcanal campaign.”
Mr Ne’e also touched on recent tourism developments, the biggest of which being the opening of the Coral Sea Resort & Casino
“The Casino boasts the finest dining in town at Hadyn’s, taking Honiara’s food and beverage offering to a whole new level.”
More new accommodation is expected as the island nation prepares for the staging of the 2023 Pacific Games, which will also bring with it improvements in infrastructure in and around Honiara.
“We might even see our first branded hotel in Honiara – currently we do not have a Hilton, a Westin, Sheraton or Notovel but we are confident we will see one of the big guns moving in soon.”
Tourism development in the Solomons has the full support of government, with the prime minister looking upon this industry sector as the chief source of foreign exchange within the next five to 10 years. The National Tourism Policy will focus on upgrading tourism accommodation and product through a Tourism Investment Incentives Package and options for public private partnerships.
Partnerships will continue to be key in the development of tourism in the Solomons, such as that with Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises which is helping to grow the lucrative cruise sector, and with national carrier Solomon Airlines and the initiatives they have brought to the party such as the code-share with Qantas.
Finishing up, Mr Ne’e said; “It is important to note that while we value the economic importance of tourism, one thing remains very important – that we do not let development change the very thing that makes us so appealing to international visitors. We must remain a charming, unsophisticated and very friendly destination.”
More information: visitsolomons.com.sb