Explore Mala with ‘Discover Malaita Tours’
BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
FROM a humble beginning, Silas Malai started a tour guide business in the 90s with little that he had without foreseeing how this would eventually be of high demand in the near future.
Known as Discover Malaita Tours, Silas Diutee Malai who is also the manager is a freelance guide based in Auki town in Malaita Province.
Started in 1997, Malai started off as a freelance guide, escorting and tour guiding tourists who are interested in exploring Malaita.
Discover Malaita Tours offers a guide if you ever need to visit and see what Malaita has to offer. From nature seeing to hitchhiking and bird watching to experiencing the diverse cultures of Malaita for firsthand. Besides Discover Malaita Tours can also arrange various village stays.
It eventually gets bigger and now becoming a brand name in the tourism industry in the country, thanks to the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) and London based ‘Lonely Planet’ for promoting it into the market.
“It was actually an ex-pat friend of mine that coined the idea for me who told me that there are tourists that would like to explore your place so why not you ran a tour guiding business so that is how Discover Malaita Tour started.
I am really thankful to the Visitor’s Bureau (SIVB) office and Lonely Planet for promoting me and marketing my business that has now reached this far,” Malai said.
For Diutee, by venturing into business is something he described as ‘escaping the dependency syndrome’
“Job opportunities are scarce during those days so starting this guiding activity has to help me to evade the harsh reality of the so-called unemployment,” he recalled.
Speaking of his findings on the island, Malai said there are lots of interesting things which tourists loved to see and know about.
For instance, they loved to visits the highlands where the inhabitants still lived the primitive way, the shell money-making in the Langalanga lagoon, how to play and make panpipes flutes in Are’ are and other parts of Malaita and as well visiting historical monuments or see and learn how coastal people built artificial islands in the lagoons. As well nature voluntarily offers jaw-dropping sights like waterfalls, caves and bluish-purple Mountains which Silas said hitchhikers would love to visit.
For almost 22 years into business, the remedy that keeps Discover Malaita Tours survive is something known only to its manager and his close associates and family members.
Manager Malai stressed that despite its breakthrough in the local tourism market, there are countless challenges he sailed through, to keep the business going and on to managed and keeping his clients. The Visitors Bureau again got credited for allowing him to attend traveling courses both in-country and abroad which according to Silas, really helped him overcome those challenges.
“There is no strong support from the tourism authority especially in terms of finance.
“I had to rely heavily on the money received from the tours to keep the business going which is not that big because not every time did we have visitors.
“The other thing is not every visitor that came here speaks English. We only give signs to communicate which is quite difficult at times for us to understand each other.
“But that’s not a problem for me though. Keeping my client safe is my priority. With this too I am thankful to the Visitors Bureau again for allowing me to attend travel courses which helps me a lot despite the challenges I came across,” Malai said.
For those that find this interesting, you can visit them on their Facebook page ‘Discover Malaita Tours’ and get yourself connect and get a chance to experience a once in a lifetime tour to the beautiful island of Malaita.