Minister of Tourism and Culture Samuel Manetoali has made his first visit to Malaita Province over the weekend.
He was accompanied by staff of the ministry and Solomon Island Visitors Bureau (SIVB) Chairman Wilson Nee.
Mr Manetoali attended a Shell Money Festival organised at Busu village, Langa Langa lagoon and visited tourism establishments around Auki.
On Sunday the minister visited Anglican’s Airahu Rural Training Centre (ARTC), Forest Lake that hosted the 2012 Festival of Arts, Sea Sound Resort at Gwanaru’u Airport.
During his visit to Gwaunaru’u, Minister Manetoali held talks with some landowners of the Gwanaru Airport regarding the closure of the airport.
The minister acknowledged the tourism potential the province has and that there is high chance assistances can spark successful tourism operations there.
“There is high potential for tourism to flourish here. Any new government must invest in this area on Malaita.”
He said the province has been very silent in terms of tourism but it is a tourism sleeping giant.
“Malaita province has been silent on this area and its beauty, but now I can confirm that there is high potential this could be a great tourist destination province.
“Yes, investment must be focused on tourism in Malaita. It can attract more employment for people and attract fast cash.
He thanked tourism operators in Malaita who continued to operate despite challenges faced in terms of demand and urged them to continue as the industry holds a future for the Solomon Islands.
“Keep up this business. You are doing a great job. Tourism will soon become an industry the country will rely on for revenue.”
By DENVER NEWTER