The Solomon Islands tourism industry has enjoyed one of its best ever starts to a year with combined international visitor arrivals for the two month period January and February 2016 increasing by more than 23 per cent.
Official Solomon Islands government statistics released this week show 3,362 international visitor arrivals for the period reached 3,362, a 23.4 per cent increase over the 2,724 total achieved for the same period in 2015.
Double digit growth was achieved in all the destination’s top four source markets – Australia, the US, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Australian visitation – up again by 23.9 per cent from 1,090 to 1,351 – represented 40.1 per cent of total arrivals.
US arrivals however constituted the biggest increase for the period with the 275 figure recorded in 2016 marking a 41 per cent increase over the 195 total achieved in 2015.
Papua New Guinea visitor arrivals grew by 12.4 per cent from 169 to 240 while New Zealand figures too rose by 10.6 per cent from 169 to 187.
Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said the national tourism office was heavily focused on taking the message as far and wide as possible in 2016.
A hands-on Tuamoto has personally led a tourism mission to Papua New Guinea and attended SIVB road shows in Australia while marketing manager, Freda Unusi and senior marketing officers have participated at several key tourism EXPOs and travel industry events taking place in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and Korea in recent months.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is a fantastic start to 2016 and the efforts we have gone to across 2015 and in 2106, hand in hand with our industry partners, and our adherence to a highly strategic, long range marketing plan are beginning to pay dividends,” Mr Tuamoto said.
“This year while we will continue to maintain strong profile in our key source markets we are also taking the message further afield with plans to raise profile in Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe.”
The NTO’s long range strategy includes the recent appointment of a Germany-based representative to assist with UK and continental Europe promotional activity with strong focus on promoting the destination’s niche tourism offerings and in particular diving, culture and bird watching.
US activity too has been bolstered with the appointment of a PR/marketing company which is already proactively planning visits by senior US travel writers and representing the NTO at several key dive-oriented events.
The US representative is also expected to play a key role in drawing further attention to next year’s significant 75th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign and the related connection with US president, John F.Kennedy who fought in the Solomon Islands during WWII.