BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
THE Artists Association Solomon Islands (AASI) looks to the domestic market as an alternative in keeping them afloat despite the pandemic.
Speaking to Tourism Media Solomons AASI Vice President Fred Oge said carvers and artists are the ones that had felt the hard blows thumped by COVID-19 on the local economy.
Given the fact that there has been restrictions in international flights and the zero arrivals of tourists since the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) since March, Mr. Oge said there has been a huge downfall in terms of income for vendors and artists – thus he said a domestic market is an option.
“Our main clients and customers are expatriates and tourists.
“But ever since the SOPE and all the expatriates were being repatriated to their various countries, and with the ban on international flights which denied the flow of tourists into the country, it has gravely affected our sells as well which resulted in some of the crafts booths to shut down as they fail to settle their rent to the art gallery management.
“On this note, we would want to see responsible authorities to seriously look into matters concerning us and help us with the struggles that we face during this pandemic, that is to set up an avenue domestically where we can exchange and sell out arts to the other parts of the country,” AASI Vice President Fred Oge said.
Early this year, women vendors also at the art gallery are calling on the government to set an alternative plan to help them tackle issues as preparations towards the widespread coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Nerolyn Silas a vendor at the National Art Gallery said that COVID -19 is a threat to her and her other fellow vendors.
She said the Government should help them as they will be affected by the issue of COVID-19 since her main source of income is through selling her art products and she and her fellow vendors are also main contributors to the local economy.
“We will be seriously affected as there will no longer be visitors coming to our country to buy our products and we will also be closing down for business if things come to worse.
“We, therefore, call on our Government to help us to set an alternative plan to help sustain us as during this pandemic, Nerolyn Silas said.
Mr. Oge, therefore, urged artists and other members of the Association to scope into such an alternative saying that at such a crucial time as this, the only way out to financially survived the COVID-19 is to tap into other directions.
“As it is impossible at the moment to rely on tourists and the international market to sell our products, I urge all our artists to view these alternatives, and together we can trade where we see it fit domestically.
“Therefore I call on the government to support our hardworking artists and craftsmen and women for us to survive through this COVID-19,” Mr. Oge said.