THE Solomon Islands Prime Minister says the country is looking to attract 60,000 visitors annually by 2025.
Rick Houenipwela says tourism is expected to plug the gap left by former key economic drivers including forestry and mining, the Global Travel Industry News reported .
Addressing delegates at the ‘Measure What Matters’ Tourism Focus in Honiara this month, he said contributions from tourism in recent years had grown, boosting the economy by $US12 million.
With visitor arrivals growing at an average of nine percent annually, the island nation is hopeful of achieving the 30,000 mark by the end of this year.
“The tourism sector will be an important sustainable source towards plugging the revenue gap going forward but it must continue to increase and improve,” said Mr Houenipwela.
Tourism Solomons CEO Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said to achieve the 60,000-visitor mark by 2025, the Solomons would need to address accommodation issues.
“We need to be able to provide international wholesalers with access to a minimum of 700 new quality rooms – without this development the Solomon Islands will struggle to reach its objectives,” said Mr Tuamoto.
Currently the majority of tourists visiting the South Pacific are booking their travel via wholesalers, he said.
“In the case of the Solomon Islands, the reality is we only have some 360 quality rooms for them to sell on a daily basis and this is a constraining factor,” he said.
“Until we have at least 700 quality rooms available for sale, our industry will continue to be constrained and hopes of reaching the target set by government will be difficult to achieve.
Mr Tuamoto said hosting the Pacific Games would increase accommodation inventory and related tourism infrastructure.
“But there has been enough talking to date, we can’t sit on our laurels and wait for things to happen – it’s time to start walking that talk.”