Signalling a new chapter for the Solomon Islands’ tourism prospects, the revamped multimillion-dollar Munda International Airport terminal has been officially opened.
Constructed at a cost of USD23.6 million, co-funded by the Solomon Islands Government, the World Bank and the New Zealand Government, the airport’s original infrastructure has been completely transformed with a new terminal building for both domestic and international traffic and a runway extension enabling much larger aircraft to land there.
Munda serves as a vital gateway to several key tourism hotspots in the Solomon Islands’ western region, including the picturesque Marovo Lagoon and Gizo, both ‘destinations within the destination’ renowned for their natural beauty above and below the waterline, and rich ‘living’ cultural heritage.
Tourism Solomons CEO (Acting), Dagnal Dereveke, said the airport development presents a huge opportunity to highlight the country’s stance as a premier destination for cultural exploration and eco-tourism.
“Munda, with its cultural heritage and world-class attractions including, diving, fishing, surfing, and bird watching, has always proven a magnet for international tourists,” Mr Dereveke said.
“Our biggest challenge now is to build an accommodation infrastructure in the region capable of managing what we hope will be an increase in demand from travellers wishing to explore the west.”
The expanded runway and airport facilities has enabled Solomon Airlines to re-initiate direct services from Munda to Brisbane with services departing on Saturdays.
These meld with a domestic schedule adjusted to offer same-day services to Munda, Gizo, Seghe and other domestic destinations.
The airline marked the opening of the new terminal with a special flight from Honiara bringing in more than 100 passengers including the prime minister and other VIPs.
Construction of the Munda Airport Improvement Project was undertaken by the China Harbor Engineering Company and the China Civil Engineering Company (CCEE).