WE talked so much about tourism.
That tourism has the potential to contribute in a big way tothe economy.
And that tourism creates more jobs for our people.
The government, on the other hand, loves to tell the nation about its plans to develop the tourism industry.
That it will allocate more money for the tourism industry so that more and more tourism establishments can be built.
But we seem to miss one thing in our quest to build this industry.
We failed to develop basic infrastructures such as roads, clean public toilets, and a reliable air and sea transport network.
These facilities are prerequisites to developing a successful tourism industry.
We cannot expect tourists to come here when our roads are filled with pot-holes.
We cannot expect tourists to come here when they know public toilets are lacking everywhere they go.
We cannot expect tourists to come here when they cannot trust local shipping and air schedules.
Local tour operators knew first-hand what tourists that come here often complained about.
Last Sundayfor instance, tourist boat Sea Princess, berthed in Honiara with 2,000 tourists on-board.
Those who came ashore were taken to World War II sites around Honiara by local tour operators.
One of the operators told of how the tourists were surprised at the condition of the roads here.
And they wondered whether Solomon Islanders pay tax at all to the government to help improve the conditions of the road.
The tour operator’s answer was succinct: we pay tax but we don’t know where the taxes go.
The government cannot talk about developing the tourism industry when it cannot even maintain the condition of our roads.
Tourists are highly conscious people.
When they visit a place that offers them little or no enjoyment, they’ll never go back to that place again.
The government is right to encourage and help more people build tourist establishments.
But this is like putting the cart before the horse.
It must do first things first.
Improve the basic infrastructures and then sell Solomon Islands to the tourists out there.
When we see them started coming in numbers, we can then build more lodges and resorts.
But first we have to get the basics right.