Tourism in Solomon Islands facing major challenges


(eTN) SOLOMON ISLANDS – Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in collaboration with the World Bank, officially launch its Tourism Impediments Diagnostic Report this week in the capital Honiara.

Speaking at the launch of the report, tourism sector specialist for the Pacific Advisory Services in East Asia and the Pacific of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, Jennifer Bartlett, said the report identifies the major problems the tourism industry in the country faces.

The report recommends solutions to address these problems.

Ms. Bartlett said the report suggests there is a potential for growth in the tourism sector for Solomon Islands.

But she said the report highlights some major impediments that create barriers to the tourism industry, which are preventing the country’s tourism sector from moving forward.

Ms. Bartlett said the report suggests that one of the solutions to these problems is to strengthen the tourism investment in the country through better collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Commerce.

Minister of Culture and Tourism, Seth Gukuna, said during the launching, a tourism task force has been set up to tackle the problems identified in the report.

In other related tourism developments, Solomon Islands flag carrier Solomon Airlines is considering the possibility of starting services from Honiara to Port Moresby Papua New Guinea in July.

This will be subject to government approvals and its application to PNG Civil Aviation Authority for a Foreign Air Operators Certificate.

A Solomon Airlines spokesperson indicated that this would signal a new era for Solomon Islands-Papua New Guinea relations, as it is believed that the Prime Minister Derek Sikua will be in discussions with his counterpart, Sir Michael Somare regarding these developments.

The spokesperson said that “the new service will be operated by a leased Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft with Solomon Airlines cabin crew and pilots trained in PNG and operating under Airlines PNG standards and certification approvals.

The spokesman said it is imperative that Solomon Airlines operates this route as the agreement with Air Niugini to purchase 10 seats on each flight in each direction has not eventuated although it was agreed to last year.

The governments of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are mandating the two national carriers to cooperate as part of the push to consolidate the affairs of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.