Dear Editor – I refer to the article in your paper by Dr Sebetian.
This is an official general response to Dr Sebetian’s article as Chief Tourism Officer of Western Province, and so I stand to be corrected on any content in response to the article written by Dr Sebetian.
The observation of the visiting team of University students of Auckland University of Technology led by Dr Sebetian is timely, welcoming and something the National Government and the Western Province need to appreciate and take serious attention.
There is nothing wrong with the article and the Provincial Tourism Division has nothing to hold back since the observation is clear and obvious in its own right.
The Tourism and Cultural Division of Western Province only hope that every citizen of the province has the chance to read for themselves and learn from the article discussed by Dr Sebetian.
In his article Dr Sebetian clearly spell out his honest criticism about the state of tourism development but rather on a ‘snail pace motion’.
Tourism in the Western Province has reached certain points where it experiences a developed stage and a declining stage.
Before the ethnic unrest experience by the country, tourism industry in the Solomon Islands enjoyed the development of tourism equally as its neighbouring cousins like Fiji and Vanuatu.
During the civil unrest and the recent tsunami the tourism industry in the Solomon Islands has seen a devastating decline on visitor numbers into the country.
This subsequently saw the Solomon Islands government shift its attention to other alternatives like logging and fishing.
Needless to say, era where logging almost invaded the country’s land resources, Western Province had contributed hugely to the country’s economy with its export of raw log material.
With its obligations and mandate to support the country to keep afloat, it resulted in various undermining devastations like depletion of marine ecology and natural land resources and its habitat in most of the province’s islands.
The cause of such unsustainable economic activities has seen the fall of the tourism industry in the Western Province.
Furthermore, because of various reasons, the Tourism and Cultural Division of Western Province has been without a Tourism and Cultural officer for quite some time.
After a while, the Province recruited an Officer to man the Office and later was vacant again.
During the course of that period there was unfinished development plans pending to be actioned. More or less, this hiccup should be of national government and provincial government interest.
However, now that the Division is with manpower and channel of communication is restored, as head of Cultural and Tourism Division of Western Province, I would like to inform the public especially the people of Western Province that the Office of the Tourism Division is here to serve your tourism needs.
I would also like tom stress here that the Western Province Government under its Tourism and Cultural Division has procedure and process in place to assist interested parties and potential tourism operators need to adhere to.
Hence on that note, the tourism and cultural Division would like to register its disappointment to the Dr Sebetian led-team for not making any acknowledgement of the very existence of the tourism and Cultural Division of Western Province.
In any formal proceeding either it is educational or b business undertakings in province, there is a proper channel that might be followed.
For instance, it is possible that Dr Sebetian might take his students to places in the Western Province where it is not active in tourism or not of tourism destination.
I would like to inform Dr Sebetian that not all of Western Province is of tourism destination.
We might say that Western Province is a Tourism hub which I concur with such sentiments, but we have certain zones in the province which are ideally ‘tourism hot spots’.
I do not know whether Dr Sebetian is aware of such information or not, but if he doesn’t that is why he needs assistance from our office so that we can pinpoint him to places and locations he might want to explore.
The provincial Minister for Cultural and Tourism welcomes the timely criticism, opinions and desires of Dr Sebetian however, the Minister appreciated if the writer would have made an effort to blunt and see the relevant authority to guide him with his endeavours rather than going directly to the media and be general about obvious concerns.
Thus with the rejuvenation of the Tourism industry in the Western Province, the Division is anticipating a sizeable budget for marketing, promotion and awareness in its 2016/17 financial year budget.
Other than that the Division encourages interested and potential visitors to come. Visit the Western Province because we hold abundant excitements that you don’t want to miss.
After all, the challenge is on the National Government to prioritize its financial resources and invest in destinations where tourism is already a buzz word and a household name to tourist suppliers like Australia and New Zealand.
‘Go west, See West, Love West.
Jeferson Junior Patovaki
Chief Tourism Officer