The Solomon Islands potential as a new and exciting destination for the Australian cruise market has been well and truly thrust into the spotlight thanks to the efforts of a senior tourism mission visiting Sydney last week.
One of the most important delegations to visit Australia in recent years, as evidenced by the presence of mission leader Ministry of Culture & Tourism permanent secretary, John Wasi, the team included representatives from the Department of Tourism, the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) and the Solomon Islands Port Authority (SIPA).
While in Sydney a busy schedule saw meetings held with several key cruise industry players including Compagnie de Ponant, Carnival Australia and Linblad Expeditions which between them sell cruise travel to a large percentage of the more than 800,000 Australians who choose cruise holidays every year.
The PS and team also took the opportunity to spread the word even further when they met with a group of Australia’s travel industry and specialist cruise media to outline the reasons behind the visit.
Speaking at an informal gathering, Mr Wasi explained with tourism emerging as a major driver for the country’s GDP, the government had embarked on a very vigorous process to seize on the potential tourism presents.
And cruise, he said, was seen as offering huge potential in the short term.
“We are determined to turn this potential into a hard reality and that is why we are here in Australia,” he said.
A key member of the mission, Solomon Islands Port Authority director corporate services, Glyn Joshua was also on hand to outline plans the organisation has to construct a new AUD4 million interim passenger terminal on the Honiara waterfront.
Built at a cost of some AUD4 million, the new facility is intended to become operational by mid-2015 in time for the first of two scheduled visits by the 1500 passenger P&O cruise liner Pacific Eden.