THE latest figures from the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office show a total of 2,397 international visitors came to the Solomon Islands in September this year – a 67.8 percent increase over the 1,428 visitors recorded in the same month last year.
The CEO of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau, Josefa Tuamoto, has said the September arrival figures represents the largest monthly intake for the country since the statistics office started recording international arrivals in 1990.
The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal is thought to have been a contributing factor to the record number of international visitors but, undoubtedly, a successful and aggressive marketing campaign has been the real driver of tourist numbers.
Such a marketing campaign has not been without high financial cost and skilled marketing.
Apart from promoting tourism what is being done to market what the Solomon Islands has to offer?
I think of promoting locally produced crafts, services, business opportunities, development, technology transfers, products, crops, to single out but a few.
In a highly globalized world market the Solomon Islands needs to sell itself internationally but I have not found much evidence of what is being done and I can find no website or manual giving country information to would-be buyers, promoters or developers.
My own website – www.solomonislandsinfocus.com– I launched in 2014 to help promote the Solomon Islands has been successful over the past 3 years in putting the country on the map, aided the MOHMS/NRH, the National Referral Eye Centre, drawn attention to the exquisite and beautifully made hand carved wood products, brought forward enquiries for business development, including two in the last two weeks, encouraged support for local charities, job applications, notices of events, such as the Queen’s Essay Competition and through the blog page circulated news of local happenings with an emphasis of good governance and national unity.
International viewers of my website can clink to instantly access current SIVB news and events, the SIBC. Solomon Airways and the Solomon Star newspaper.
I am happy to further expand my website to try and promote a broader range of interests important to putting the Solomon Islands on the map and aiding the economy and especially helping those struggling to make a living from producing hand crafts that only find a local market when tourists visit.
Crafts can be an important contributor to a country’s economy, employing artisans that are preserving cultural heritage, while generating an important source of income through the informal sector, but I feel more needs to be done to raise international awareness of the local crafts.
My offer to expand my website to better serve the Solomon Islands need not be restricted to adding more facts about crafts but could help as a marketing promotional tool to those interested and, importantly, at no cost to anyone other than my own.
I invite those interested to contact me via the link on my website if it is considered I can assist.