BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
PERMANENET secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Nihopara says finance and limited resources are key challenges that hinder the growth of tourism sector in the country.
Nihopara was making reference to a report which noted that of the 160 accommodation providers operating in the country only 10 percent can be sold to overseas wholesalers by the Solomon Islands Visitor Bureau, as 90 percent fall well below international standards.
He said his ministry is rolling out the Minimum Standard platform to upgrade accommodations.
But, he said it depends on the availability of funding and resources to support the programme.
He explained that the cost and logistics of getting around to some of our beautiful but very remote areas is very high.
Nihopara said it is essential that the focus on the roll-out of the Minimum Standards targets facilities that are already attracting or hosting tourists and other important guests.
“This is important because we would be focusing on upgrading existing businesses that are already playing in the market.
“We would like the upgrades to be executed through partnership between the Ministry and the operators through some cost-sharing arrangements that would be mutually agreed to.”
He said having upgraded accommodations that meet globally compatible minimum standards is crucial.
“In order for us not to confuse our visitors and also to increase the competitiveness of types of accommodations that we have on offer.”
He said the main objective of having good standard accommodations is to ensure that visitors or clients are not dissatisfied with their stay while in the country.
“Having standard accommodations ensures that we are offering rooms that meet the minimum expectations of our customers and charged at a reasonable rate. Customer satisfaction and enhancing our competitiveness are two crucial reasons why having accommodations that complies with the minimum standards is important.”