Solomon Islands putting itself on the tourism map
Glittering blue seas, palm fringed beaches and wooden jetties overlooking colourful coral does not necessarily result in swarms of tourists – or even a stream.
Luring flashpackers, honeymooners, adventure seekers and everyone in between to laze on remote white sands requires staggering amounts of unseen practical effort and infrastructure. To name just a few: convenient flight schedules and seat availability, trained hotel staff, online booking systems, branding, chefs trained in foreigner-friendly cooking and access to ingredients, search engine optimization, roads, wi-fi.
For the Solomon Islands, blessed with a beautiful landscape and looking to diversify its economy, turning to tourism makes sense. Now, with a national tourism development strategy in hand, they are putting their plans into action.
This includes addressing hotel quality standards and local infrastructure, and supporting artisans and crafts makers who create items for tourists to buy, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in partnership with the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).
ROOM WITH A VIEW
“Dolphin View Beach is the product and realization of my dream,” said Alistair Pae, owner of the Dolphin View Beach Homestay.
Planning for his retirement, he envisioned being his own boss, and in 2007 applied for a plot of beachfront land where he could build bungalows. By 2014, he had approval and had cleared the area and started erecting the first structure, with his own modest sum of money.
“I saw in a local newspaper about tourism funding from EIF. I submitted a project proposal and in 2015 I was informed that my proposal had been approved. The same year I received the assistance that helped me to purchase bedding, a mattress, blankets, pillows and furniture for the bungalow, and I purchased a water pump, generator and pipes, a solar lighting system for the bungalow and kitchen, and bought a stove and utensils for the kitchen,” Pae said.
He added, “This was all I needed to be operational. Then in 2015 I started receiving local guests plus some expats working in town. In 2016, I did online marketing and started receiving international guests.”