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Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Culture and Tourism Andrew Nihopara
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Visit to Japan opens more doors for SI tourism in Asian market

By Gary Hatigeva

OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have held a one-week visit to tourism stakeholders in Japan in an effort to strengthen relations and tap into the country’s fast growing tourism market.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Andrew Nihopara and his Director, Barney Sivoro were in Japan to visit the Solomon Islands tourism office, which is currently being housed under the country’s Embassy in Tokyo, and review the office’s operation programme.

The visit according to Nihopara also gave them an opportunity to visit and meet with existing stakeholders as well as potential key stakeholders and tourism operators in Japan in the hope to extend Solomon Islands’ tourism network in that region.

The two heads also met with top officials from Japan’s Association of Travel Agencies (JATA), where discussions were centred on the trends in the tourism sector and ways forward for the two countries’ tourism developments.

Nihopara added that the meeting with JATA officials was also focusing on how Solomon Islands as a potential tourism product can be added in the association’s programmes and the possibility to collaborate with the association to help bolster Solomon’s overall tourism product.

They also met with top officials from Air New Guinea’s office in Tokyo where discussions were based on how best established initiatives can utilise the airline’s current service.

Nihopara added that from all the successful talks with tourism stakeholders to enter into collaborative programmes, “we see that Air New Guinea is the gateway, with an already existing twice a week flights there”.

“The meeting with Air New Guinea officials was had also extended potentials to increase the number of flights from two to three a week, which if eventuates, will surely boost any partnerships and collaborations that we have discussed with our tourism stakeholders in Japan,” Nihopara further added.

Following the review programme, the visiting delegation also collaborated with officers at the tourism desk to device a strategic plan to help guide the office’s programmes for the next 12 -24 months, as it continues to work closely with stakeholders to see that all discussions are put to realisation.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary expressed his thanks for the hospitality extended to them during their Japan visit and assured to continue building an effective relationship to enhance the tourism partnership forged.

From this meetings and visits held while in Japan, the Ministry according to the Permanent Secretary, will put together a cabinet paper to present to the Prime Minister who will leave for Japan later this month for the Annual Palm Meeting hosted in Japan.

Nihopara stressed that the paper will be delivered with hopes to see that what they have initiated and highlighted, are also taken up to the leaders’ levels, where they can further discuss and cement whatever partnerships that are vital to the development and benefits of the country’s tourism sector.

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