Tourism industry suffers massive blow

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Solomon Airlines airbus
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

SOLOMON Airlines, hotels and tourism operators in the country are still recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

 Governor General Sir David Vunagi declared the State of Public Emergency on March 25 after the announcement made by World Health Organisation on the covid-19 outbreak of a pandemic on March 11.

Solomon Airlines Manager Commercial, Collin Sigamanu said it is a tough environment for the business since the closure of the international borders.

Sigamanu said the closure of the international airport has affected the domestic market as no overseas visitors coming to the country.

As part of the serving the domestic market, Solomon Airlines came up with helpful holiday special packages from Honiara to certain accommodations in Munda and Gizo in Western Province and Suavanao in Isabel province.

Sigamanu said the package includes return airfares, accommodation and more save up to 50 percent stays from July 31 to August 31, 2020.

Furthermore, Solomon Airlines introduced the 14 Day Advance purchase special – return economy fare for selected domestic routes.

The routes include Atoifi, Ballalae, Bellona, Choiseul Bay, Fera, Kirakira, Kagau, Lomlom, Manaoba, Santa Ana, Parasi, Arona, Marau and Santa Cruz.

Sigamanu said you have to book at least 14 days in advance and save 10 percent on the normal return domestic economy airfares.

He said the travel is from August 3 to December 15, 2020.

Sigamanu said the idea behind concentrating on the domestic market is to sustain the ground properties so that when the covid-19 is over, they can still be operating.

On the other hand, the country’s only four-star hotel, Heritage Park Hotel, is still fighting for survival after it lay off 50 percent of its workers five months ago.

General Manager, Sanjay Bhargava said the hotel was hit hard with no room revenues after no tourists come into the country following the closures of international flights.

He said the hotel is lucky with 30 rooms booked to accommodate people serving the mandatory quarantine period.

He said the hotel is expecting about 18 more people to fill in the rooms this week.

In terms of promoting package for customers, Bhargava said at the moment the hotel cannot do it because of lack of buying power.

As such, he said the hotel decided not to introduce special packages.

All in all, the tourism industry in the country is facing a devastating blow which only time will tell before it resurrect back to where it started.

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