Solomon Islands Visitors’ Bureau (SIVB) has been assured by the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of his Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government’s commitment to develop the country into a unique tourist destination.
He made the assurance when SIVB board chairman Wilson Ne’e and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Josefa Tuamoto paid a courtesy call on the him yesterday morning.
Mr Ne’e said, the bureau was excited to hear the DCC government talks about tourism as one of its policy priority areas and wants to be a partner in this ambition to develop the tourism sector.
He said, Solomon Islands has all the ‘right ingredients’ to turn itself into a popular holiday destination and with the positive stance of the Democratic Coalition for Change Government on tourism, the bureau is optimistic of taking the country’s tourism sector to new heights.
Mr Ne’e said, the visitors’ bureau has scheduled two major events for this year and they are the launch of the 2015 National Tourism Strategic Plan in March and the 2015 National Tourism Forum in August.
He said, bureau accords the honour of the launch of the National Tourism Strategic Plan to Prime Minister Sogavare if he would be available at the time for the launch.
Adding on to the remarks by the Chairman Nee, the bureau’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Tuamotu said, “ Solomon Islands has available a variety of tourist attractions that can be packaged and promoted to the world and we are pleased with the allocation for tourism in your government’s policy document.”
In the Democratic Coalition for Change Government Policy Document, a total of $428 Million is earmarked for tourism for tourism development for the period of 2015 to 2018.
He said Solomon Islands needs to actively promote itself to the world to be a popular travel destination as a recent research carried out by the bureau in Australia under the theme ‘What Drives People To Solomon Islands’ found out that 90 percent of the interviewees do not even know where Solomon Islands is located though stating culture as the main tourist attraction for the country.
Mr Tuamotu said, in response to the outcome of the research, the bureau came up with a promotional strategy for this year and that is ensuring that Solomon Islands is featured as an ideal holiday destination in as many media outlets as possible.
In response, Prime Minister Sogavare said, “We (Democratic Coalition for Change Government) are behind you in your efforts to develop Solomon Islands into a popular unique tourist destination. We believe the tourism sector has so much potential in taking the country forward.”
He said Solomon Islands is a beautiful untouched paradise and the ‘selling approach’ of what the country has on offer for tourists must be boosted.
“The group of islands between Isabel and Choiseul are very beautiful and ideal for tourism development. Graciosa Bay in Temotu Province is also very beautiful and with its rich history can attract tourists.
“Graciosa Bay is where the Spanish Explorer Alvero de Mendana lost his life. The Iron Bottom Sound, between Honiara and the Florida Islands, with its treasure of sunken World War II relics can also make a popular underwater museum.
“Apart from these mentioned sites, there are many more in the country that we can develop and turn this country into a great holiday destination,” the Prime Minister added.
Mr Sogavare said, his Government is pleased with the appointment of Mr Tuamotu as CEO of the Solomon Islands Visitors’ Bureau and is looking forward for his expert guidance in developing the tourism sector in line with its tourism policy intentions. Mr Tuamotu is a Fiji national with a wealth of experience in tourism.
He said, he is looking forward to the launch of the 2015 National Tourism Strategic Plan and the 2015 National Tourism Forum and assured them of his attendance.