Tourism Solomons has warmly welcomed Solomon Airlines plans to increase its weekly Honiara-Brisbane services from four to five effective 02 October 2023.
The development, which also includes plans to recommence Solomon Airlines’ Brisbane-Munda service, follows hot on the heels of Solomon Airlines’ recent acquisition of a second Airbus A-320 aircraft and commencement of a weekly Auckland – Port Vila – Honiara service.
On a domestic basis, the new international schedules dovetail perfectly with the soon to be completed SBD60 million Munda International Airport Terminal Building due to be completed in September.
When fully operational, the new terminal is intended to play a key role in the airline’s increased domestic connections to Gizo, Seghe and Suavanao.
Tourism Solomons’ Head of Sales & Marketing, Fiona Teama, said the positive ramifications for the country’s tourism sector from this latest development were “immense” and a huge boost for the national tourist office’s aspirations in the key Australian and New Zealand markets
The start-up for the airline’s implementation of the new October schedules, she said, was timely given they begin just weeks before the start of the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, an event which is expected to see in excess of 8000 athletes, team supporters and spectators flood into the country.
“And we could not have asked for better timing with the Australian and New Zealand school holidays starting in mid to late December,” she said.
“We are confident these new airline schedules will not only prove a catalyst for increased numbers of tourists, they will in turn have positive impact on our tourism sector and in the bigger picture, create tourism-related job opportunities for our youth and overall, benefit the economy.”
Ms Teama did caution that while increased flight services were a major boost, the country’s tourism infrastructure needs to move in pace to cope with the hoped for increased tourism figures.
Describing the lack of inventory as an ‘Achilles heel’ for the sector, Ms Teama said the country desperately needs more good quality, standard beds to be able to cater for increased numbers of visitor arrivals.
The latest visitor arrival figures released by the Solomon Islands Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO), reveal 8000 international visitors travelled through Honiara International Airport between January and May.
While this represents steadily rebuilding numbers, the figure still represents a 32 percent drop on the 10,582 visitor arrivals recorded for the same five-month period in 2019.