The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) gathered last week to celebrate their successful collaboration earlier this year in rolling out COVID Extra Care Protocols for the country’s tourism sector.
The rollout, implemented with the support of the Australian Government’s private sector development program, Strongim Bisnis, paved the way for the reopening of the country to international tourists.
MCT’s Extra Care Coordinator, Rachel Sibisopere, presented a report on the COVID Extra Care training to members of the tourism sector, MCT, MHMS and the Australian High Commission during the event. Ms Sibisopere said the training has been a crucial part of the country’s reopening strategy
“In March 2022, the Government announced the re-opening of borders to international travellers. For this to occur, tourism operators needed to achieve compliance with the COVID-19 Extra Care Protocols,” Ms Sibisopere said.
Australian High Commission Counsellor Economic Cooperation, Alison Purnell, said Australia continues to be committed to supporting Solomon Islands tourism sector’s recovery.
“Australia will support the tourism sector and all the partners here today, whenever we can, through Strongim Bisnis and other avenues.
International tourism grew by an impressive average of 7.6% growth per year in the five years prior to the pandemic. We need to raise it to that level again. There is a lot of work to revive the tourism sector, but I believe with all of the partners here today, we have the people that can make it happen,” Ms Purnell said.
MCT Permanent Secretary, PS Barney Sivoro congratulated the MCT and MHMS COVID Extra Care teams for their efforts in implementing the training for the Extra Care Protocols.
“I want to congratulate the COVID Extra Care teams for the huge effort put into rolling out the protocols nationally, making our border reopening possible,” PS Sivoro said.
“We hope that these protocols will help create an environment that enables the tourism sector to safely leverage the growing economic opportunities that international travel brings.
The work that was done rolling out the COVID Extra Care Protocols also prepares the nation for the influx of tourism expected with next year’s Pacific Games,” Mr Sivoro said.
Strongim Bisnis, Business Advisor, Krista Likaveke said the program pivoted its support for the tourism sector in response to the pandemic.
“Our program is designed to respond to the dynamic nature of the markets and that is exactly what it did by shifting the program focus during the pandemic when the borders closed and opportunities in the industry shrunk.”
Ms Likaveke also highlighted Strongim Bisnis’ commitment to the tourism sector and the huge potential for job opportunities for Solomon Islanders in the sector.
“Strongim Bisnis sees tourism as a sector providing not only employment opportunities for urban youth but also income-earning opportunities in our provinces.
In addition to continuing the focus on domestic tourism, Strongim Bisnis has started to engage with tourism stakeholders across the country to identify potential areas for growth and will continue to support the Ministry in maximizing the potential that the sector has for our country,” Ms Likaveke said.