The Solomon Island Visitors Bureau (SIVB) CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto has echoed his South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) counterpart’s comments underlining the role data and statistics can play in determining a country’s economic direction.

Returning to Honiara this week after chairing the SPTO-convened ‘Pacific Conference on Measuring Tourism’ in Fiji, Mr Tuamoto said the organisation’s CEO, Ilisoni Vuidreketi was “spot on” with his comments.

Mr Tuamoto was part of a strong Solomon Islands delegation attending the event which also included Solomon Islands Government Statistician, Douglas Kimie and representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

The SIVB CEO said the time had come for the SIVB to take a leaf out of the SPTO book and improve the way it collates its tourism-related statistical information.

“Mr Vuidreketi is absolutely correct when he says that while tourism has become a vital contributor to the sustainable growth of Pacific Island economies, statistical collation in many countries and the way data is used has not kept pace and continues to be inconsistent, inadequate and incomplete,” Mr Tuamoto said.

“The Solomon Islands, along with many of our South Pacific neighbours, is fully aware and very switched on to the fact that with several of its traditional sources of foreign exchange having weakened in recent years, tourism is in strong position to become ‘the’ key contributor to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“In order for us to better determine the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP and in turn demonstrate to government the value tourism can bring – and is bringing – to the Solomon Islands, it is vital that we improve the way we measure tourism-related statistical data.

“And this is something we intend making a priority.”

Mr Tuamoto said it was a real feather in the SIVB cap and recognition for the Solomon Islands from its South Pacific peers that the organisation has been invited to chair the conference.

The event attracted delegates from 16 countries representing national tourist offices, statistical experts, economists and the banking sector.