Dear Sir,

My recent stay at the greatly improved and refurbished Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel was very pleasant and a world away from the frenetic and often chaotic Bangkok that I had left some days earlier.

Present for most meals in the hotel's New Capitana Restaurant was a group of 20 or so elderly US military veterans who could often be overheard re-living the Guadalcanal battles of the past. I was reminded of what your correspondent, Charles DeRoller of New York, had written about the potential of US veterans visiting Guadalcanal's historical battle sites. Mr. DeRoller's views on the possibility of encouraging US veterans to visit the Solomons have merit and I would hope the new Philip led government seizes the initiative, and to include Japanese veterans as well.

To me it was a real pleasure to be back in Honiara again after an absence of more than 11 years and I was struck by the friendliness of everyone that I met, including the staff of the hotel.

The efforts of the volunteers in beautifying the town were evident and I would encourage them to continue their work, despite the setbacks that have occurred in the past.

The Solomons has often been described as the hidden paradise of the South Pacific and its tourist potential has still to be tapped.

My only disappointment during my short visit was the state of the arrivals hall at Henderson International Airport. The facility was dark, dingy and shabby and not what one expects to find at the international gateway to a country set to promote and expand its tourism industry to aid the economic recovery of the nation. It wouldn't take much to add some lighting, decorate the place and refurbish the facilities in keeping with the friendly, welcoming, "Happy Isles."

Yours sincerely,

Frank Short