Solomons tourism urged to carve its own path
The Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau is urging tourism operators in the country to avoid comparing themselves to neighbouring powerhouses Fiji and Vanuatu.
The Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau is urging tourism operators to avoid comparing themselves to neighbouring powerhouses Fiji and Vanuatu.
This comes as the country's tiny industry works to expand cruise ship business by improving infrastructure and developing cultural experience for visitors.
The chair of the tourism board Wilson Ne'e says he believes Solomon Islands has a lot to offer travellers, but operators should stop trying to compare themselves with well established competitors.
Mr Ne'e told Koroi Hawkins work is underway to improve berthing facilities in Honiara in anticipation of a huge spike in the number of cruise ships next year.
WILSON NE'E: As we look at what Solomon Islands can offer as a preferred holder destination and catering for the cruise ship portion of the market, we believe that Solomon Islands, as a country, we have so much diverse and unique sights that, you know, cruise ships coming to the Solomons can experience and appreciate. Instead, most of the time our people are benchmarking on Vanuatu and Fiji as a country where cruise ships in the Pacific visit a lot. I want to emphasise the fact that Solomon Islands has a uniqueness of its own - culture, for instance. We have diverse culture that can be one of the drawcards for cruise ships to come and visit the Solomons. So instead of using other countries as somewhere that we can benchmark off, we should be focussing on getting ourselves prepared, getting ourselves organised in the provinces and in Honiara, especially with the government and provincial government ready for cruise ships to visit our shores here.
KOROI HAWKINS: I spoke with the chief executive of Carnival Australia while they were doing some of this recruitment in Vanuatu for their ships, and she said that one of the things that restricts their movements into the region is the lack of underwater hydrography maps for the islands which they travel to, and also the support services that these big boats need. Do we have that infrastructure in place in the Solomon Islands?
WN: That again has been identified as one of our weak areas that the government needs to address and I'm proud to say that the Australian government has taken the initiative to assist our government to prepare the charts that are required and the markers that are required to identify areas that boats will be coming to and most of the sites that we will expect cruise ships to visit. So these are our priorities, and they're working on it right now.
KH: And are we seeing an increase, slowly, over the years in the number of cruise ships and the interest in Solomon Islands? Is that increasing?
WN: That's definitely a big increase. As you probably know, Ports Authority are working on a new passenger terminal for cruise ships, catering for the requirement that Carnival requires for their cruise ship to be able to berth in Honiara. Not only that, this year we had about four main big boats that came into the country, or came to Honiara. Next year we are getting eight cruise ships - huge ones - that are coming into Honiara, and a total of 25 cruise ships visiting the country, so that's about a 400 percent increase in boats coming into the country.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: