The Solomon Islands government is looking to the tourism sector to attract 60,000 visitors annually by 2025, in the process netting the country’s economy SBD1 billion.

Addressing delegates attending the 2019 ‘Measure What Matters’ Tourism Focus in Honiara, Solomon Islands caretaker prime minister, the Hon. Rick Rick Houenipwela said contributions from tourism in recent years had now grown to the point when the sector can possibly plug the gap left by the country’s former key economic drivers, including forestry and mining.

“The tourism sector will be an important sustainable source towards plugging the revenue gap going forward but it must continue to increase and improve,” the prime minister said.

With International visitation to the Solomon Islands growing on average nine per cent annually, the destination is hopeful of achieving the 30,000 mark by the end of 2019.

In terms of revenue, Tourism constitutes around SBD500 million.

Echoing the prime minister’s calls for growth, Tourism Solomons CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto said if the Solomon Islands was to achieve the 60,000-visitor mark by 2025, the country badly needed to address the current accommodation situation.

“If this goal is to become a reality we need to be able to provide international wholesalers with access to a minimum of 700 new quality rooms – without this development the Solomon Islands will struggle to reach its objectives,” Mr Tuamoto said.

“Currently most tourists visiting the South Pacific are booking their travel via wholesalers.

“In the case of the Solomon Islands the reality is we only have some 360 quality rooms for them to sell on a daily basis and this is a constraining factor.

“Until we have at least 700 quality rooms available for sale, our industry will continue to be constrained and hopes of reaching the SBD1 billion target set by government will be difficult to achieve.

“Once we are in position to offer a much increased, quality accommodation base then the opportunities will follow.

“The Solomon Islands staging of the Pacific Games will hopefully act as a catalyst for an increase in accommodation inventory and related tourism infrastructure.

“But there has been enough talking to date, we can’t sit on our laurels and wait for things to happen – it’s time to start walking that talk.”