BY ALEX DADAMU
‘DOMESTIC Tourism’ as the cushion against the effects of COVID-19 on the Tourism Industry, took center stage this month with three (3) Government Ministries in collaboration with Tourism Solomons and Solomon Airlines launches the ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ Initiative.
The onslaught of the COVID-19 health pandemic which resulted in the closure of the national border negatively impacted the aviation and the tourism industry.
Tourism Solomons, Head of Marketing and Sales, Fiona Teama, already the country has lost more than $350 million in revenue from overseas visitors last year due to border closure.
Because of that, Tourism stakeholders had to look at other marketing strategies to support the local tourism industry, thus the introduction of ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ initiative,” the Tourism Solomons, Head of Marketing and Sales said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Andrew Nihopara, Domestic Tourism could be a cushion for the industry.
“While we are looking at Domestic Tourism Bubble, the idea is to trigger the growth and perhaps establish a ‘Domestic Tourism’ within the country.
‘Even if we don’t have international tourists and visitors coming into the country, at least we have a vibrant domestic tourism operating,” Mr. Nihopara said.
He said, the public service Ministry is seen as the start for the ‘Iumi Tugeda Holidays’ initiative because as the biggest employer in the country, a trigger for the initiative to work and to make sure it is operational.
“…make sure the initiative is operational and make money to meet the objective of ensuring the tourism sector is maintaining and sustaining business also ensuring it is flying domestically, profitably and viably,” Mr. Nihopara said.
Commercial Manager of Solomon Airlines, Colin Sigimanu also emphasis on domestic tourism and traveling stating that the Airlines had to concentrate on providing domestic services to try and survive financially.
He revealed that following the closure of the border, 60 percent of the airlines’ total revenue was lost.
“As such, we have launched the ‘Helpful Holidays’ initiative to encourage locals to travel at a discounted price and spend their holiday at a destination of their choice,” Mr. Sigimanu said.