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Tourism unlocking its potential says PM

PM Sogavare
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Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during the Tourism Focus 2023 programme yesterday at the Heritage Park Hotel has said that with the tourism sector repositioning its brand means it is unlocking its potential.

The Tourism in Focus is an annual event that creates the opportunity for tourism institutions such as the Ministry of culture and tourism, Tourism Solomons, Solomon Airlines to present their updates, work plans and key strategic to focus of 2023 to tourism operators, other government representatives and the tourism industry stakeholders.

“I’ve observed the growth of the industry in a lot of different ways, nevertheless for today the overarching government policies is more or less a cross-sectorial one, whereby each sector compliments each other in a cohesive manner”, said PM Sogavare.

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Sogavare also mentioned that with the tourism being a distinctive sector, in some instances cannot stand on its own because it relies also on other systems like transport including the airlines, shipping and others as well as for moving our visitors around. If one of these transport systems fail the industry will be affected.

“When the industry turns around and it thrives other sectors to match the standards in which the industry is setting for us, then this is when everyone is participating with the industry and this is when we are prepositioning ourselves to meet new demands”, he said.

With the tourism industry contributing an estimated $500million into the local economy and providing 3.1% of total employment in the country the Prime Minister emphasized, “With so much untack potential, repositioning ourselves, repositioning our brand, therefore means we ought to unlock these potential”.

The early 2020s saw the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic causing the subsequent closing of the boarders and the endorsement of travel restrictions which really made the local tourism sector the first and hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Following the onslaught of the pandemic in 2020, the government has tried their best to support the industry through the economic stimulus package that aims to kick the economy afloat and which includes the injection of the $100million support to the sector”.

Just recently the government, through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Solomons in a partnership, introduced the “iumi tugeda holiday” domestic tourism bubble that also continues to support the industry.

“With positive reassurance coming from all sectors we reopen our boarders and with our pristine environment and national attractions,[it] places tourism as the next big potential drive of our economy”.

With this, PM Sogavare also added that the challenge that is currently faced is the lack of infrastructure on the provinces.

“Infrastructure improves connectivity and should lessen cost of tourists coming into our country. We need more bridges, we need more roads, wharfs and airports in our provinces.”

“The government will continue to pursue its policies to increase tourism products offering by facilitating and supporting the engulfment of these enabling infrastructures,“he adds

With the nation preparing to host it’s first ever Pacific Games in November and it being one of the industry’s key focus, the prime minister emphasized that the industry must enhance itself within the ambits of culture, arts and heritage.

“I fully acknowledge the ongoing preparations by the industry in readiness towards receiving the largest group of Pacific friends [ready] to visit our shores, for the Pacific games in just nine months.”, he said.

  • Story by Timothy Inifiri Jr.

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