JUST less than a year ago on 1 July 2022, the country was able to open its international borders to overseas guests and returning residents from abroad.
During that time, one of the requirements was for all visitors and returning residents to show a proof of two doses of vaccination and this caused a lot of inconvenience to many overseas visitors and locals returning to our ‘Hapi Isles.’
As a result, many have delayed or halted their trip.
This week, the National Government through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) had announced that there is no need to show any proof of vaccination or COVID-19 test results before traveling into Solomon Islands.
This is of course a great and welcoming news for unvaccinated foreign nations wanting to visit Solomon Islands for leisure, business or other engagements as well as Solomon Islanders abroad wanting to return home.
Not only that but it would reduce the hassle of people running around looking for a place to get their vaccination tests before flying over.
This is a bonus for the country, especially the tourism sector as it attempts to bounce back from aftermath of the pandemic and November 2021 riot.
During the pandemic, the country closed its borders for more than 800 days which greatly impacted the tourism industry.
No doubt, the news of the lift of COVID-19 Vaccine proof is a great relief for many tourism business operators.
Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tourism Solomons, Dagnal Dereveke, has welcomed the announcement in a statement issued this week.
“The decision to drop COVID-related entry requirements showcases the Solomon Islands as a welcoming and traveler-friendly destination, it demonstrates our commitment to facilitating tourism and highlights our confidence in having managed the COVID-19 situation effectively,” Mr Dereveke said.
In the past visitors need to submit their vaccination information prior to traveling to boarding their flight.
And sometimes when the Solomon Islands authorities did not respond in time, it also affects their traveling plans.
But now, there is no need for that.
All you need is a confirmed return air ticket into Honiara.
As the news about this latest advisory from the Government spreads across the globe, more visitors are expected to make their way to Honiara and the airlines industry will greatly benefit from this.
It would also be a bonus for the country as it prepares for the Pacific Games in November.
Surely, this latest announcement would see more athletes, officials and guests arriving on our shores.
For local residents residing overseas who have not been vaccinated but wish to return, they can now do so and be reunited with their families.
It is also a welcoming news for the country to ensure business activities can continue and outsiders can travel freely into our country without too many requirements to adhere to.
However, let us not forget to let our guards down as COVID-19 is still around and we must continue to be vigilant at all times and maintain hygiene practices.
Let us thank the Government and National Oversight Committee for this latest decision.
Since the reopening of the country’s international border in July 2022, a good number of overseas guests and tourists have been visiting our shores. With this latest announcement, we can expect more arriving.