Solomon Islands: Small but not terrible during rough economic times

0
230

HONIARA (eTN) – Tourism in Solomon Islands has grown from strength to strength over the past five years. Latest visitors’ arrival statistics for the first three quarters of 2008 show total holiday travelers to Solomon Islands grew by 38 percent to 3,654 visitors compared with 18 percent growth for the previous three quarters.

The Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) general manager Michael Tokuru said that holiday travelers from Australia and New Zealand market region grew by 45 percent during the first three quarters of 2008 compared with 8 percent growth for the previous three quarters.

According to him, holiday travelers from Australia and New Zealand market region contributed 49 percent of the total holiday travelers to Solomon Islands followed by travelers from North America, 15 percent, South East Asia 13 percent, and South Pacific 13 percent while holiday travelers from the South Pacific market region registered the highest growth at 130 percent followed by travelers from Australia and New Zealand, 45 percent, and North America 29 percent.

Mr. Tokuru said that the overall total visitors’ arrival to Solomon Islands for the first three quarters of 2008 grew by 17 percent to nearly 12-thousand visitors. The majority of overseas visitors came for business and conference 40 percent and holiday 31 percent.

Visitors from Australia and New Zealand market region contributed 52 percent of the total visitors’ arrivals to Solomon Islands followed by visitors from South Pacific and South East Asia while visitors from South Pacific market region registered the highest growth at 25 percent followed by visitors from Australia and New Zealand and North America, 19 percent.

Mr. Tokuru said the SIVB is pleased with the results for the first three quarters of 2008 and we expect the year-end growth to be higher when the figures for the fourth quarter, which will include the start of Pacific Blue’s flights to Solomon Islands in December 2008, are available.

“Although holiday travelers and visitors arrivals to Solomon Islands are well below that of neighboring countries in the South Pacific, the steady annual growth over the past five years indicates that Solomon Islands is becoming more and more competitive and attractive to business and holiday traveler,” said Mr. Tokuru.

He added that the tourism outlook for Solomon Islands in 2009 looks promising in spite of the negative impact of the current global financial crisis on Solomon Islands major holiday source markets. Increasingly, holiday travelers from Australia and New Zealand are looking for exotic and short haul tourism destination in the South Pacific including Solomon Islands.

Furthermore, the Australian dollar is still very strong against the Solomon dollar which makes Solomon Islands an attractive holiday destination for Australians in spite of the Australian dollar depreciating against the US dollar and other major currencies.

Moreover, Solomon Islands, which is warm all year round, is only three hours flight from Brisbane with excellent flight connections to Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which makes it even more attractive for holiday travelers.

On the ground, there is currently a shortage of beds, however, the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara which is scheduled to open for business in the middle of 2009 is expected to fill the gap in the short-term with additional 204 beds in the second half of 2009.