THE North Malaita Tourism Association (NMTA) has acknowledged the visit by a high level delegation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB).
The delegation is being led by the Minister Bartholomew Parapola.
The delegation travelled to Malaita on Monday mornig and officiated in the ground breaking ceremony of a new provincial tourism office for Malaita province.
On Tuesday the delegation traveled to North Malaita.
And speaking at the occasion to welcome the delegation chairman of the North Malaita Tourism Association Job Ngenomea Kabui said, the tour to North Malaita by the Tourism Minister Bartholomew Parabolo and his delegation marks an important milestone in the tourism business in North Malaita.
“The timing is right for the tourism business to be extended to North Malaita. Statistics indicated that tourism travelers travel mostly to Honiara, Western Province and other places in Solomon Islands but in Malaita it is almost zero, especially tourists who travels with money to spend.
“This shows that tourism is well developed in other Provinces and Malaita is the least developed in tourism development.”
He thanked the Permanent Secretary (PS) John Wasi for accepting their request for a stop over in Malu’u despite their tight schedule to come and meet the new executive of the newly formed North Malaita Tourism Association (NMTA), members of the association and the North Malaita Community.
“Special thanks also goes to the Chairman of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau Mr. Wilson Ne’e for his assistance in advice that resulted in the formation of the North Malaita Tourism Association.”
He said, the NMTA is now a registered organization under the Charitable Act of Solomon Islands. It was registered on the 20th May 2015.
“We are now ready to work closely with the Government and other stakeholders.”
The formation of the NMTA was based upon a strong desire and the determination to;
1) Promote and advance tourism in North Malaita (Wards 6, 7, 8 & 9)
2) Serve as a voice and a point of contact in the tourism industry in Solomon Islands and North Malaita
3) Work together with the Government and other bodies on tourism related issues
4) Bring tourists to North Malaita to spend money in the communities to improve our standard of living
5) Revive our traditional practices and raw talents which are slowly dying out
6) Work with Malaita Province on a code of conduct in tourism and we envisage that this will become an ordinance that will govern both international and local players in the tourism industry in Malaita Province.
He highlighted that tourism business in the rural community is a tough business but given the right support it is an industry that touches the heart of a rural man.
He also noted that in North Malaita their problem is the lack of capital and assistance from the Government.
“Sometimes good business ideas on tourism emerge and die out. If there are ways in which the government can render support we would really appreciate.
“It is also noted that there is a wide lack of knowledge in tourism itself. Tourism awareness and training is an absolute need in North Malaita.
“In our first attempt to address this issue the association is planning to hold a tourism awareness course in June this year. Our request for assistance is now with the ministry and we are waiting for considerations on this.
“We request the ministry to include our association in their training schedules this year. Sometimes when we call on the ministry they said they are concentrating on Western, Isabel Provinces and Marau.
“Some other problems we faced in our communities are law and order; we have only five Police officers looking after fifty-six thousand people in the region. This is unimaginable and government must address this as a priority otherwise tourism development would be meaningless.”
Mr Kabui also highlighted that other problems they are faced with relates to road infrastructure and airport.
“But I believe the government is addressing them. I wish to advice that North Malaita has the potential to tourism development.
“Opportunities still exists in resorts, home stays, eco-tourism, historical sites, good beaches and caves, waterfalls and even reefs and there are many others. To develop them is a problem and we need assistances on this.
“We are also aware that DCC government is placing more emphasis on tourism development in the country and we appreciate that move. We feel that we will become part of that very soon.”
He finally reminded the delegation that North Malaita now has a tourism association.”