The Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) has unveiled its plans to position the destination as a new and very alternative venue for the international MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) market.

SIVB CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said while the MICE industry currently only holds a small space on the Solomon Islands’ overall international visitor intake, the sector has long been identified as playing a major role in tourism becoming the destination’s key source of foreign exchange earnings within the next 10 years.

Tuamoto knows what he is talking about, his national tourist office resume includes stints as both international director of marketing and CEO for nearby Fiji where he played a major role in helping build the MICE industry into a multi-million dollar earner for the South Pacific ‘big gun’.

“While our MICE activity is still relatively small and currently we mainly see incentive and small conference groups, we view the sector as playing a major role in the Solomon Islands benefitting from the ‘Big Three’ – generation of foreign exchange, employment and foreign investment,” he said.

But things are about to change and Tuamoto said with the Solomon Islands government had identified the opportunity the sector represents and was drawing up plans to install the facilities and accommodation base the destination needs in order to cater to the lucrative convention market.

“Large conventions are a different matter and while several of the bigger hotels in and around Honiara are very well equipped to handle large groups, our MICE experience to date has largely revolved around smaller groups.

“If we are to be in position to lure the MICE market into our islands, we have to install the necessary requirements to make us an attractive option to many of our South Pacific neighbours – that goes without saying.

“We know we have a big job head of us and we have a long way to catch up on other destinations but we also know the many benefits the Solomon Islands can accrue from this source of tourism.

“The beauty of the Solomon Islands is that while Honiara is ideal for those larger meetings groups, our other islands lend themselves perfectly to pre and post meeting opportunities with which participants can avail themselves of some amazing activities.

“These range from some of the world’s best diving on amazing coral reefs and WWII shipwrecks to quality surfing and fishing to kayaking and immersing yourself in our unique culture.

“On the other hand we also offer the perfect location for simply relaxing in some of our boutique resorts, eco-lodges and home stays with our intriguing culture and heart-felt hospitality forming a unique backdrop unlike anywhere else on the planet.”