Government turns to tourism for revenue pull
While it is very encouraging to note that the present government is rendering the long deserved recognition due to the tourism industry of Solomon Islands, it is also important to note that most previous governments have not 'put their money where their mouth is' although they have expressed the exact sentiments. Given the very encouraging statistics in visitor arrivals as reported, one should be enlightened that a significant 80% or more of the stats would be attributable to business visitor arrival as opposed actual holiday visitors that should be the essence of focus if tourism is going to be a genuine and significant revenue earner. Perhaps our focus should not be misled by visitor arrival figures but rather the yield of visitors, which can only be achieved by attracting holiday visitors. Thus, the question remains 'how can we entice holiday visitors to capitalize on our vastly improved air access and connectivity?'. I am hopeful that SIVB and SITIA (Solomon Islands Tourism Industry Association) are well aware of this would work with the government to recognize the essence of furnishing their roles with the much needed marketing funds and commitments. Given the appropriately devised tactical marketing and promotional approaches, tourism earnings could be catered for in terms of dollar-for-dollar rate of returns in double digit. Idylly, government should realize a SBD$20 to SBD$30 for every dollar it invest in marketing (given our currency value in comparison to the AUD or NZD as our main source markets). Upon devising the most appropriate and highly targeted tactical marketing and promotional programs and approaches in our key markets, the government must be committed to furnish SIVB and the tourism industry with the funds in order to enable our country to capture a share of the highly competitive source markets. The step by Solomon Airlines to open an excluive ticketing and retail office in Australia presents a prime opportunity to launch a tactical marketing campaign in the Australian market and to leverage of the other overseas visitors to Australia. The current global economic downturn could well present our destination a significant opportunity to lure more holiday visitors given our relatively weaker currency. However, the success of such an opportunity lies in how price competitive we place ourselves in the market in comparison with our regional neighbours in terms of 'value for money' to potential visitors.
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