Solomon Islands has been given a slot on the 24-Day Melanesian Islands & Australia luxury cruise trip operated by Seabourn on November 2022.

The trip will visit 41 ports across 12 countries, and the vessel — Seabourn Odyssey — will stay in port for five overnights throughout the voyage.

Solomon Islands has been slotted for November 18 & 19, 2022. The itinerary includes a stopover at Tavanipupu, before docking for a day in Honiara.

Seabourn has been pioneers in ultra-luxury and hospitality small ship cruising. Seabourn’s luxury fleet each carries between 450 and 600 guests to the world's most desirable destinations.

Solomon Islands desperately needs to open its borders for international tourism, the economy is being battered by the effects of COVID-19.

But will we be able to open up in time?

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has stated that in order to reopen our borders, we must aim to achieve at least 90% vaccination coverage of our eligible population.

To date close to 229,000 doses have been administered, and a total of 52,319 are now fully vaccinated. This represents only 7.6% of the eligible population.

"If we continue at the current rate it will take us about 78 weeks or 17 months to reach the 90% target, which means we will not be able to reopen our borders until March of 2023," Sogavare said recently.

Sogavare said for us to reopen our borders by June 2022 (target date) we need to see the vaccination rate increased to 20,000 doses per week. So, perhaps it is doable, but with the recent unrest it might take some time to pick things up, time that we do not have.

Other countries in the Pacific Islands listed on the luxury cruise itinerary have achieved between 70%-98% vaccination coverage of their eligible population. 

In 2019, contribution of travel and tourism to GDP (percent of GDP) for Solomon Islands was 12.8%. So, clearly, the need for the country to open up is crucial, but that depends on our vaccination rates, which, as it stands, is extremely low.

Despite calls for the public to take their vaccination, rates continue to be low. It appears that a different strategy needs to be used. Perhaps explore one that tags vaccination to incentives, seems to work in other countries in the region.

The hardline “no jab no job” policy will only make a bad situation worse. Unemployment is already high, adding to such figures can prove costly for the country, as the recent unrest have shown.