A slight change in marketing strategy for tourism development might yield benefits
I was already thinking about tourism to the Solomon Islands before I read today, Tuesday, in the Solomon Times newspaper that the expenditure in tourism has declined since 2015.
The Leader of the Opposition Group, the Hon. Mathew Wale told parliament last month that most of the decrease had been in the Ministry of Tourism budget and 2020 development budget set at $6.3 million, down from 7.8 million in 2019.
Mr. Wale questioned the government on how it was going to create the source of growth in the tourism sector with declining investments.
I see tourism as an important pathway for economomic growth given the dwindling logging industry.
While the tourism sector in the Solomon Islands is small and yet fully developed compared to many other Pacific countries, especially Vanuatu and Fiji, growth in tourism can lead to broad based employment and income generation, as well as support the retention of cultural traditions and the sustainable management of the nation's environmental assets.
When the Dionysus Ensemble trio arrived at Henderson Airport on 1 January for their two-week training project with the members of the local Piano Association (PASI) they were met on arrival and entertained, briefly,in a leaf hut which was surrounded with colourful flowers and against a backdrop of tall foliage and lovely trees.
I had to enquire where the leaf hut was and very surprised to be told it was at the airport. It was certainly not there in my time in Honiara and I began to wonder what other beautification and other changes were now in place to add to the attractiveness for visitor arrivals.
Taking the thoughts further, it could be advantageous with, perhaps, the help of Solomon Airways, to introduce an idea that was instituted in Austria, and maybe one that continues.
I will explain with a quote from an article I saw was published by the Economics Development Organisation, based in the United Kingdom.
“If you do not have an internet presence, you are missing out on countless opportunities. One of the best ways to generate this online presence is through blogger outreach. By hosting bloggers in your country you can have them promote your tourism industry on the internet with articles and hashtags on social media.
“One fantastic example of a blogger outreach campaign was promoted by the Austrian Board of Tourism. Austria flew in several bloggers to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip. In exchange for this trip, the bloggers wrote about their Austrian experience and promoted the tourism industry there on their blogs. Bloggers were also encouraged to post pictures and notes on sites with the hashtag “#inAustria.”
With the approaching advent of better and faster broadband internet services in the Solomon Islands, I would suggest, if not already in practice, better promotion of the tourism website. With prior poor internet services it might have prevented “traffic”.
Modem Search Engine Optimism will be the best way to promote the tourism website on line if SEO utilizes embedded key words to get higher ranking on all search engines. With higher ranking there should be more traffic and interest in visiting.
Once the new internet service is fully operational then the value of online reservations and payment should not be forgotten. If individuals can pay for their hotel room as well as book recreational activities online they will be far more likely to be interested in visiting the Solomon Islands.
Offering a 24 hour booking service and payments will encourage tourists that the “Solomon” is accessible, on line, and up-to-date.
It will be important that the system used worldwide by governments and tourism industry organizations to ensure that the tourism sector maintains consistency in internationally-recognized standards of quality is adhered to if more tourists are to visit and return again.