BY TAVAKE SIMON HANA’AROA
AS already affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tourism Industry will again be the sector most affect as the cabinet has agreed to ban the world’s biggest social networking site – ‘Facebook’ in the Solomon Islands.
Facebook unlike other social media platforms has become the tool of choice where businesses preferable chose to promote their businesses and tourism operators are no exception.
Nida Black Sandy Beach Recreation and Homestay in North West Guadalcanal are two of the aspiring tourism businesses which relied heavily on Facebook to promote and sell their packages on offer and to attract customers.
Speaking to Tourism Media Solomons, Manager Mato Mui expressed his heartfelt remarks, should the ban to proceed through, his tourism business will severely be affected.
“Yes, the temporary ban on Facebook will surely affect our business since Facebook is our only means of social media platform where we rely heavily on our marketing and promotion.
“As a small business, the high cost of advertising on the traditional media is our great concern which Facebook provides a more affordable option for us,” Mato Mui said.
Parangiju Mountain Lodge (PML) is one of the struggling tourism businesses that also heavily rely on Facebook to reach its potential customers.
“It will certainly affect our business. It will reduce the number of customers because it is Facebook that enables us to reach our potential customers both locally and internationally,” the PML Management told Tourism Media Solomons.
Its management continued; “how does the banning of Facebook reflect on a democratic nation like Solomon Is where freedom of expression, freedom of media, and capitalist principles are at the core of our democracy?
“How can the government justify, the banning of Facebook will deal with the so-called negative impacts when our citizens will just simply move on to the next best social media platform like Instagram, and other social media sites,” the PML management questioned.
Not only Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) like Mato Mui’s Nida Black Sandy Beach Recreation and Homestay and Parangiju Mountain Lodge had foreseen what might lay ahead, larger resorts like Coral Sea Resort and Casino also did.
In a media statement from the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), the Managing Director of Coral Sea Resort and Casino Anthony Fargas said advertising in the traditional media is not viable in a depressed economic landscape regularly.
“There is a high uptake of Facebook with Solomon Islanders and freedom of expression and information should be encouraged in any democracy or competitive landscape.
“It allows businesses to connect directly with suppliers and customers, as well as allowing individuals to keep in close contact domestically and internationally with family and friends,” Mr. Fargas in the media statement said.
Mr. Fargas later questioned how the Solomon Islands will be marketed if we cannot tap into direct communication channels with international visitors.
He said guests will be considering where to travel during the pandemic, as at post-pandemic many people will be wanting to travel somewhere that is safe and close.
“The Solomon Islands is well placed to take advantage of this – but any positive effect of this will be diminished with the removal of basic communication rights – such as Facebook,” he expressed in the statement.