COVID-19 free Solomon Islands is looking towards New Zealand and Australian Governments for inclusion in a ‘South Pacific travel bubble.’
COVID-19 free Solomon Islands is looking towards New Zealand and Australian Governments for inclusion in a ‘South Pacific travel bubble.’ to help its now struggling travel sector to get back up
“The year kicked off with a very healthy 6.11 per cent increase over the same period in 2019, traditionally our strongest month – but three months on and we saw an almost minus 70 per cent deficit in March”, Josefa ‘Jo Tuamoto, Tourism Solomons CEO, recently told the Solomon Times.
Mr.Tuamoto has reportedly called on the Australian and New Zealand governments to ask for their active consideration in allowing the COVID-19 free Solomon Islands to be included in a potential ‘South Pacific travel bubble’ when international travel restrictions are finally lifted.
Australian and New Zealand travellers, he said, form the bulk of the country’s international visitor intake and allowing the destination to be included in the bubble would have a major impact in resetting the Solomon Islands economy which relies heavily on tourism as one of its key sources of foreign exchange earnings.
Praising the Solomon Islands’ government for the proactive steps it has taken since early March to close its borders to international travel, and in the process keep the country 100 per cent free of any COVID-19 infection, Mr.Tuamoto said Australian and New Zealand travellers could be assured of their safety when visiting the destination.
“We are confident, along with the extremely strict control measures we have had in place, and continue to have in place, they have prevented COVID-19 from entering the country, and we are in a very strong position to be considered one of the safest travel destinations for Australians and New Zealanders.”
“Also, given the fact that tourism represents a key economic driver, it is vital we reset the industry.”
In a separate development today, as reported by Radio New Zealand, the Aotearoa Society of the Cook Islands has joined the call for New Zealand to open up its borders to allow travel with south Pacific nations that are free of Covid-19.
Spokesperson Derek Fox said, in the Cook Islands' case, the economy is almost totally reliant on tourism, but this had stopped dead, despite there having been no coronavirus in the country.
Mr Fox said his group appreciated the New Zealand Government wanted to revive domestic tourism, but he pointed out typically about 115,000 New Zealanders holiday annually in the Cook Islands, spending $US145 million.
He said New Zealand businesses still benefitted from this.
"Almost every cent of it ends up back in New Zealand again, one way or another.”
Sources. Tourism Solomons and Radio New Zealand.