By OWEN TALO
TOURISM is poised to be the next leading industry to drive the national economy by bringing more economic activities, generate revenue, provide employment and more importantly, play an important role in our economic growth.
Recently local journalists are back at the drawing board to learn more about the economics of tourism by understanding what the sector is about and to better equip them to publish positive stories about Solomon Islands and its unique niche market domestically and internationally.
Director of tourism in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Barney Sivoro highlighted that tourism is a cross cutting or cross sectorial industry which means everybody needs to play their part for the industry to grow.
“The moment a tourist arrives at the airport, a taxi that transports the tourist gets paid for taking him to his hotel,” Sivoro said.
“At the hotel there are staff waiting for him including those who prepare his room down to those who cook food for the guest, the chefs, and those waiters at the hotel restaurant, those barmen and women who serve him the drinks,” he added.
“At the kitchen there are fresh farm products (fruits, vegetables, fish (seafood) and eggs that are sourced from our local farmers and local fishermen.
“Not forgetting the cleaners, the electricians, the plumbers, those who work in the office and front office in the hotel – all have a job because of the tourist.”
Ender Rence, the owner of inbound tour operators Imperial Travel Service, strongly empathised that operators providing transport service to tourists visiting all the attraction sites also play a vital role in the tourism industry.
But Rence said Solomon Islands tourism industry could be termed as a “fail industry” because the government and its stakeholders are not doing enough.
“Our situation with the tourism industry in Solomon Islands is, it is disintegrated,” Rence argued.
“That’s because we failed to work together,” she added.
“So who are we going to blame? Is it the Prime Minister, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Tourism Solomons or Strongim Bisnis?
“Or course no because tourism is everybody’s business,” she said.
She said despite the challenges the government and its stakeholders in the tourism sector are experiencing, Solomon Islands can perform better if we work together to grow the industry.
Rence also challenged journalists attending the training to search for and publish tourism stories.
“The media plays a crucial role because it is the breathe and life of tourism industry in Solomon Islands.”
Other workshop presenters highlighted the role media plays as an equally important partner in driving economic growth through the dissemination of information and success stories about tourism in Solomon Islands.
This article was produced from the recent “Economics of Tourism” training for journalists in Honiara funded by the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) in partnership with Strongim Bisnis.