With international visitor expenditure reaching an estimated SBD233 million in 2016 and annual visitation continuing to increase year on year, the Solomon Islands tourism sector is well on track to becoming an economic pillar for the South Pacific nation.
The positive news emanates from an intensive study commissioned by the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau and delivered by Sydney-based Stollznow Research to Solomon Islands government and industry representatives in Honiara.
Key findings presented by company director Neil Stollznow show that Australian visitation continues to dominate the Solomon Islands tourism landscape, accounting for more than half of all visitors (53 percent) with leisure traffic accounting for 30 percent of the country’s overall annual total.
The main reasons cited for visiting the Solomon Islands remain ‘rest and relaxation’ (38 per cent) followed by SCUBA diving which accounts for 28 per cent of all leisure-based arrivals.
The survey also found that while water-based activities including swimming and snorkeling are high on visitors’ wish lists, sightseeing, culture, history and in particular WWII, shopping, hiking, fishing, sailing and kayaking remain among the top 10 reasons for visiting.
However, one of the country’s biggest drawcards remains the friendliness of its people, a factor Mr Stollznow described as “compelling”
Further insights detailed 62 per cent of visitors staying that they would definitely recommend a Solomon Islands holiday to others and 79 per cent saying they would return to the destination for a further visit within the next five years.
Describing the survey findings as very positive and evidence that the Solomon Islands tourism industry is “staying on track” to becoming a major economic pillar in short time, SIVB CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said there are still some areas that are seen as in part constraining the destination’s overall tourism sector growth – accommodation infrastructure and sales agents’ awareness.
“There is a need to address a current accommodation shortfall across the Solomon Islands and in particular in Honiara where would be well served by an increase in three to four-star accommodation,” Mr Tuamoto said.
“We are hopeful the Solomon Islands’ successful bid to stage the 2023 Pacific Games will have a major flow-on impact, both from the perspective of increased investment in infrastructure and particularly, hotel accommodation and a dedicated convention facility.
“The Stollznow Research also tells us while we are making inroads with wholesalers and travel agents in our various visitor source markets we still need to do more to get ourselves on the radar.
“This is something we have to address and with government and local industry support we are working hard to make sure we become top of mind with travel agents, both in our existing visitor source markets and new areas of potential business.
“Our profile is good but we need to back that up with more product and more sales of that product.”
The next SIVB Visitor Survey has been scheduled for 2019.
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