BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
MALAITA province is one of the largest of the nine provinces of Solomon Islands.
With the total area of 4,225 km2 (1,631 square miles), it is one of the heavy populated province with a total population of 137, 696 according to the 2009 census – thus, tourism is largely underdeveloped in the province.
Manager for Discover Malaita Tours, Silas Malai told this paper that Malaita province is a good tourist destination and can even match or exceed the Western province. However, he said there is still a hindrance for the industry to grow in the province given that there is little or even nothing that the tourism body in the province did to help the struggling tourism operators.
He said the province is already in the position to take tourism to a new level in terms of its rich culture and the natural beauty which makes it a good destination for tourists.
“The only thing that still holding us back is that our people especially those in the rural areas still lack the knowledge of tourism and how it can create income and employment to the community.
“We need to educate them because some of them are the ones owning the lands for such development,” Malai said.
Given the three main lagoons in Malaita, namely Lau lagoon, Langalanga lagoon and Are’ are a lagoon, Malai said Malaita can be as popular as the western province with proper support from the tourism authority.
“We can match Western province or even beat them if we utilize our resources and open up for tourism.
“Western province is very good in terms of tourism and it has shown us a fine example of how the province and its people see tourism as a commodity that they can sell and create income and revenue for the province and country.
“There’s nothing hard for us [Malaitans] to be like the Western province! We too have beautiful Lagoons that we can utilize and turning it into a tourist attraction sites,” the Discover Malaita Tour manager said.
Silas Malai urged tourism operators in Malaita province to work together, work stronger and smarter in order to lift tourism in the province to a whole new level.