BY BEN BILUA
OFFICERS from the Western Province Tourism Department took time out from office to visit operators yesterday.
The Officers, Fabina Lilo and Zaza Gina travelled to Kolombagara Island where they met with the owner of Hambere Village Stay after visiting a site that a local is planning to build a home stay at Sausaga village.
The visit is part of a series of visits that the Western Tourism Department had carried out since the beginning of this year.
Speaking to Island Sun, Fabina Lilo who is responsible for tourism operators in Kolobagara said the visit is a normal routine where her office rolls out on a daily basis.
She said the purpose of the visit is to encourage operators to continue with their business.
“We understand that our operators are badly affected by the COVID-19 and our presence with our operators is one of the strategy to encourage them.
“Additionally, we also want to see how we can help our operators with trainings in preparation for the borders to open.
“Furthermore, we encourage our operators to improve their facilities so that they can tap the market when the border is open,” Lilo said.
She said her office will carry out an important training early next month and that the visits is to inform the operators about the training so as facilitating logistics to bring all the operators to Gizo for the training.
Owner of Hambere Village Stay, Venty Maena said he is happy to see the Western Tourism Officials visiting operators.
He said such visit encourages operators like himself to find innovative ideas that would improve his homestay.
Maena said COVID-19 has put operators in a position that they look at the future with nothing but darkness.
“We are suffering from this pandemic and seeing officials from the Tourism office in Western Province is a huge encouragement for us.
“From our discussions, we know that good things are coming and I must applaud our tourism officials,” he said.
This paper understand that Western Tourism Industry is looking at creating its own bubble to help tourism operators.
In an interview with Island Sun earlier this month, Fabina Lilo said the Go West Bubble is targeting domestic market especially Asian communities who have expressed interests to be part of the bubble.
“So, we are discussing the possibility to create our own bubble. This idea has been circulating within our partners and we are hoping to get thing started by August this year,” she said.
Lilo stressed that Western Province has a lot to offer though tourism industry has been badly affected by COVID-19 border restrictions.
She said there are activities earmarked for the later part of this year and the proposed bubble will fall in line with the activities.
“In terms of activities, we have fishing competition which will be held next month followed by JF Kennedy Swimming competition on 2nd August.
“We also have the Lagoon Festival and other small events that are supposed to be held this year.
“However, these proposed events depend on fund, as we all know, the money side of this events are quite challenging due to the state of our economy,” she said.
Lilo said Western Tourism Division is trying its best to keep the industry alive though it’s been badly affected by COVID-19.