TOURISM Solomons has roundly applauded Solomon Airlines’ decision to reboot its ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ domestic travel program, describing the carrier’s move as perfect timing for a tourism sector “still very much in recovery mode.”
Tourism Solomons Acting CEO, Dagnal Dereveke said while better than expected Q3 and Q4 2022 visitor numbers had given the sector a positive start to the year, the destination had work to do if it was to regain its close-on 30,000 visitor arrival record set in 2019.
“But in the interim period while international numbers continued to build, the relaunch of the domestic holiday program will certainly be of benefit and bring in much needed business,” Mr Dereveke said.
Phase one of the program restart sees the introduction of 10 air packages featuring properties in Gizo, Munda and Seghe in the Western Province, and Suavanao in Santa Isabel.
Land packages around east and west Guadalcanal are also available in addition to a number of options in Central Province with packages tailored to the newly released Honiara – Tulagi Pelican Express high speed ferry schedule.
The program will continue to expand as more operators join the initiative with bookings open available immediately through to 15 March 2024.
Flight and accommodation packages from the outer provinces to Guadalcanal are also planned for those wanting to travel to Honiara.
The ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ programme was initially launched in March 2021 as a collaboration between Solomon Airlines, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Tourism Solomons, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Public Service to create much needed traffic for local operators.
A large number of the local market taking advantage of a wide range of land/air/sea packages came from the Solomon Islands Public Service and the expatriate community.
Mr Dereveke said while in place, the initial program had proven effective, playing a vital role in helping to keep businesses afloat.
“’Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ brought in much-needed revenue, kept people in work and food on the table for many families while our international border was closed,” he said.
Solomon Airlines CEO, Gus Kraus said the carrier was very excited to again be part of Solomon Islands largest ever domestic tourism initiative.
‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’, he said, had created a platform to grow the local economy as well as offering the domestic market new opportunities to explore its own backyard via very attractive holiday packages.
The airline has revised its domestic flight schedule in tandem with the relaunch to meet anticipated demand but is ready to add supplementary capacity where demand arises.