Solomon Islands dancers - EDITED

In what is seen as a major step forward for the future promotion and development of Solomon Islands tourism, the destination’s hotel and resort operators have, at the urging of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) board, moved to establish a formal representative body.

The move follows several meetings with SIVB chairman, Moses Tepai and CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto where they underlined the important role a strong and united hotel association can play in helping to shape the country’s tourism future.

Tuamoto drew reference to the position similar organisations have taken in Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu and the action they have taken in helping to propel increased international visitation numbers.

“A key component of our overall blueprint for the future of Solomon Islands tourism is to see the tourism sector become the prime source of our country’s foreign exchange earnings within the next 10 years,” Tuamoto said.

“We felt it was high time for our local accommodation providers to form an association that has the ability to form a strong voice and can raise and tackle pertinent issues affecting the accommodation sector.

“This voice in synch with both the national tourist office and Solomon Airlines will enable us all to drive what is shaping up to be a very powerful industry lobby and one which can take key agendas directly to the government and other stakeholders.

“More to the point this initiative will play a major part in helping us to achieve our common objectives.”

Needing no further prompting the accommodation sector has moved swiftly, appointing Heritage Park Hotel Honiara general manager and SIVB board member, Sanjay Bhargava as interim chair.

Bhargava’s pro tem committee includes representatives from the King Solomon Hotel, the Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel and the Pacific Casino Hotel.

The committee’s first job is to configure the new association’s constitution and fundamental focus, membership policy and structure and initiate a membership recruitment drive.

The creation of an industry crisis management team and the establishment of a master database comprising local, regional and global information are also high on the agenda.

Tuamoto said the formation of the association marks a watershed for Solomon Islands tourism and one that will have an extremely productive impact on the way the industry promotes itself and the destination internationally.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management