The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Solomon Airline Captain Ron Sumsum highlighted this when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing recently.
Sumsum told the PAC members that an excuse on airfare being expensive for tourists to afford holidays in the Solomon Islands is untrue.
He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament (MP) for Aoke/Langalanga Matthew Wale referring to speeches from most MPs blaming poor visits of tourists into the country due to airfares.
“We have to look at my competitors, Air New Guinea, Fiji Airways and others because at the end of the day we have to cover the costs,” Sumsum stated.
“Each year we have 50,000 to 60,000 travels and you divide that across the costs of unit for aeroplane, that’s how we want to cover the costs,” he added.
“As for tourism concern, we don’t have entities to push critical mass,” the CEO stated. “We talked about all players to come into the country with strong network in distribution basically of renowned brands but we still don’t have the attractions,” he further stated.
“Solomon Islands is the only Melanesian country with hotels owned by mum and dad,” he said. “We can’t compare us to Fiji, Vanuatu and other tourists destined countries that have Novetels, Meridians, Softels, Hiltons and so forth,” he added.
“Unless those big players start coming in it’s going to be difficult for us to reach critical mass to start realising attractive airfares for attractive holidays,” he said.
He said that Vanuatu and Fiji and Bali have critical mass of 300,000 to 400,000 which the country is really far behind.
“So on one hand I can cost my ticket to a certain level but on the other hand there is far bigger issues that need to happen, and basically that on critical mass,” he stressed.
By ATAI JOHN