Honiara, Solomon Islands – Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau CEO, Josefa ‘Jo’ Tuamoto has told the destination’s tourism leaders the time for procrastination has passed and the industry needs to act now if the Solomon Islands is to achieve its goals – specifically positioning tourism as the country’s key economic driver.
Addressing delegates on day two of the pivotal ‘Invest to Preserve’ forum in Honiara, Mr Tuamoto there had been enough talking and if the industry did not take that action, it was “in danger of losing the plot.”
Drawing parallels with Winston Churchill’s famous ‘finest hour’ speech given to the British Parliament during WWII, Mr Tuamoto said the tourism industry’s finest hour was upon it.
“The time to act is now, we shouldn’t be passing the buck to the next generation – there is enough grey matter in this room to be able to make the hard decisions we need to make in order to achieve our ends,” he said.
“You have a huge responsibility, you have some decisions to make today and we have to do it as a team – this is the hour for all of us.”
Pointedly addressing potential investors, Mr Tuamoto said first and foremost the industry needed to address the dearth of quality accommodation within the destination, this seen as a critical factor in the tourism sector’s growth.
“The sums are simple – if we have an additional 700 rooms we can service an additional 50,000 visitors, almost twice as many as we are receiving now,” he said.
Mr Tuamoto said that while the Solomon Islands were known far and wide as the ‘Hapi Isles’ but his take was that the country had shifted away from being happy.
And slow economic movement and unemployment were seen as prime factors.
“Yes we have economic growth but not enough to make the Solomon Islands a happy place.
“So it is inherent on the tourism industry to focus on playing a part in pushing our economy to a level where we are making an impact on growth, thereby creating employment for our people.
“And if I may borrow the words of another famous speaker, in the process make this country great and ‘Hapi’ again.
“I think it’s a very simple solution but as said, the time for procrastination has passed and we need to act now if our tourism industry is to achieve it goals and a speedy increase in our overall accommodation inventory is critical.”