– Sets 9 per cent visitation increase challenge for 2018
Praising the Solomon Islands tourism industry for its efforts in 2017, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon, Rick Hounipwela MP has told delegates attending a key tourism forum in Honiara that 2018 will be the year to push new boundaries and to challenge the status quo.
Speaking at the ‘Tourism in Focus – Disruptive Positive Change’ forum taking place at the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel, the Prime Minister said the 2017 Q3 result, which saw visitor arrivals increase by 13.8 per cent to more than 18,500, as going “well beyond expectations.”
“Having seen the increase in 2017, I have no doubts that 2018 will be the year to push new boundaries and to challenge the status quo so that visitor arrivals can grow in leaps and bounds to drive new investments to our humble destination,” the Prime Minister said.
“The visitor arrival target is set at 9 per cent growth for 2018. To achieve the target, the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau will need the cooperation and support of the tourism industry to realize its goals and objectives, to build the momentum with strategic and clinical approaches to its activities.
“It needs to disrupt and challenge the status quo to realise its true potential – hence, this tourism in focus forum.”
The Prime Minister also drew reference to a long standing government vision that tourism will one day replace logging as a more sustainable driver needed to pick this emerging economy from the “swamps of sluggishness. “
However, he said, it will have to expand 5.4 times to parallel logging receipts let alone to replace it.
“Amongst the things deemed fundamental to translate this dream to reality is to adopt a disruptive approach to speed up the transition,” he said.
“To replace logging receipts Solomon Islands will need to generate 125,000 additional international visitors and the spin off from this extra arrivals is huge and can positively affect Solomon Airlines equipment acquisition, agriculture and fisheries sectors to increase production to feed our guests.
“To do this in the shortest period of time will require active participation from all key stakeholders including total government support, willing resource owners and keen and capable investors to commit to the destination.
“Absence of good and quality accommodation in the Capital and the Provinces is identified as one of the main obstacle to growth. The disruptive approach is to saturate Honiara and selected Provinces with quality accommodation so inducing market forces to dictate play, effectively making Solomon Islands a more affordable destination compared to its Pacific neighbours.
Recognising the important contribution the tourism industry being to the Solomon islands’ economy, the Prime Minister pledged his government would continue to develop the tourism sector through the development and introduction of national tourism legislation.
This, he said, would include plans to implement a range of activities under the Tourism Division Capacity Development program to ensure consistency in tourism standards and quality management as well as enabling increased visitor satisfaction levels and improving industry competitiveness.
Thanking the delegates attending the forum, and particularly those who travelled long distances to be there, SIVB CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto echoed the Prime Minister’s comment regarding the need to change the status quo.
“We cannot go on the way we are if we want to grow our tourism sector,” he said.
“We have done pretty well considering the challenges we face but we really need to develop the leisure market and hopefully by the end of this year, if we can achieve that, we will have finally cracked the 25,000 international visitation mark.”
(Source: Release Issued on behalf of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau 31 January 2018)
For more information, please contact Mike Parker-Brown
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