BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
THE New Zealand High Commission office says it will continue to work collaboratively with the Solomon Islands government together with all tourism institutions and stakeholders in developing the tourism industry in the country.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Georgina Roberts on behalf of the government and people of New Zealand during the Tourism in Focus 2020 that was held at the Heritage Park hotel recently acknowledged the role of private sector and tourism operators in the country, for their part in the game to keep the sector up and running.
As far as development is concerned, the High Commissioner said New Zealand is actively doing its part to help the tourism sector in the country. They are actively preparing to provide technical assistance and of course operational budgets to the Tourism Solomons and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“We are actively preparing to invest more in the tourism sector of the Solomon Islands.
“What we have done is to ensure that we are providing technical assistance that has been requested of us and as well as providing an operational budget in particularly to those entities like the Tourism Solomon and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism,” High Commissioner Roberts said.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare during that same event said that the tourism sector is an important catalyst for the development of various industries and sectors such as infrastructure, accommodation, arts, entertainment, culture, wildlife, agriculture, and marine. Thus, he said the DCGA Government has placed its commitment to have a SIG-wide approach for the development of the productive sectors including tourism.
“Tourism development is captured under the productive sector in the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (“DCGA”) Policy and Translation Document.
“DCGA recognizes the important role that tourism can play in developing our country.
“At this juncture, may I (on behalf of the Government) acknowledge the support of the New Zealand Government (through the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs) towards the two initiatives already mentioned. DCGA is grateful for the support towards the tourism sector and I look forward to the continuation of such fruitful and meaningful partnership to grow the tourism sector,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said.
As a committed development partner to the Solomon Islands, New Zealand has over the years helped the Solomon Islands in its economic growth. The recent achievement was the upgrading of the Munda Airport in the Western province, which is co-funded by the governments of the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.
This infrastructure investment has seen safer and more regular flights to the Western Province and improved connectivity within the province, which is crucial to the development of tourism.
“Thank you Prime Minister and the minister for your acknowledgment of support that you have given us, in key infrastructure areas in particular such as Munda.
“Munda has been one of New Zealand’s top priority areas in development.
“Number of my predecessors have worked closely with your government and the private sector to ensure this project is properly delivered in the best interest of the people of the Solomon Islands.
“To see pictures of the initial flight fly from Brisbane was extremely joyous. I have to say that after so many years of hard work together, all our efforts have been achieved,” she said.
By saying that, the high commissioner is looking forward to seeing a growth in the number of people wanting to come to visit the Solomon Islands, wanting to experience the variety, the diversity, the genuine experience that visitors can have during their stay in the country.
“We are on purpose today (Tourism in focus 2020 24th January) to have such a great representation from the sector, the operators, and people out on the ground who are contributing to ensure this sector must grow in the Solomon Islands.
“This is the priority for the government as we have already had an excellent national strategy that is due to be reviewed, but the vision and priority of the objectives of the previous strategy remain extremely important for the growth of this important sector,” the High Commissioner said.
The Solomon Islands National Tourism Development Strategy 2015 – 2019 Strategy is designed to identify and address sector-related impediments, to facilitate a faster rate of economic growth and increased benefits from tourism. The document is subtitled ‘Strategy for Growth’, reflecting the importance that sustainable tourism can play in growing the economy of the Solomon Islands and in achieving the broader goals of the new Government.