28 Apr 2017

Solomons opens tourist office in Japan

10:04 am on 28 April 2017

Solomon Islands is to seek more tourists from Japan with the government setting up a tourism office in Tokyo.

Japan is a key Pacific tourism market, and Solomon Islands wants to tap into that.

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Photo: RNZI Koroi Hawkins

Earlier this month the Asian Development Bank advised the Solomons to pursue the development of its tourism industry more vigorously.

The ADB specified a need to foster tourism as the country's key export earner, logging, winds down.

The legacy of years of ethnic tensions at the turn of the century held the sector back in Solomon Islands.

The country has recently risen back to the level of about 23,000 annual tourists that it had immediately prior to the tensions in 1998.

But Auckland University of Technology's New Zealand Tourism Research Institute director, Simon Milne, said the sector had a big future.

"There's no question that there is a need to focus on marketing, to build awareness and perhaps counteract some of those perceptions from the past," he said.

Mr Milne urged Solomon Islands to focus strongly on new emerging Asian tourist markets.

Meanwhile, New Zealand is looking to provide more help for the development of tourism in Solomon Islands.

New Zealand's outgoing Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the Solomons' had spectacular tourism potential.

He said it was necessary to first improve the quality of airports - a process to which he previously committed more than $US22 million dollars of aid money for the development of two airports in Western Province.

New Zealand has recently been asked to undertake the same work at several other airports around the country.

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