Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto has welcomed the decision by the Solomon Islands government and its Fijian counterpart to end the impasse between the two countries airlines in place since last July.
Speaking from the SIVB head office in Honiara, Mr Tuamoto said the impasse had impacted strongly on international visitor arrivals – and in particular the sensitive US market – with several resorts and operators across the country advising cancellations since July as a direct result of the impasse.
“In a year that was always going to prove difficult for the Solomon Islands tourism aspirations when you take into account the floods in April, mid-year civil unrest and the lead up to the general election, the impasse undoubtedly can be seen as playing a further role in keeping people away from our shores,” he said.
“All factors combined, and in the face of everyone’s best efforts to counter the negativity, small wonder international visitation figures slipped into negative growth for the first time in five years.
“The impasse resolution in tandem with the new government announcing its intention to push the tourism agenda even harder bodes well as we move into 2015 and particularly from the US market which we view as potentially one of our strongest source markets going forward.
“Add to this further intensification of an SIVB international marketing program as we move into 2015 involving key local stakeholders which is intended to give us even stronger profile in the US and our other existing source markets and additionally newer destinations.
“Despite the negatives across 2014, we have been hard at work establishing a platform, we have an agenda in place intended to see us achieve cut through across 2015.”
Under the agreement singed between the Solomon Islands and Fijian governments this week, Solomon Airlines will resume flights into Fiji as of 24 January.Fiji Airways will recommence its services into Honiara from 03 February.
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