By James Wilkinson
The Solomon Islands continues to make waves as an exotic destination for conferences, with the tiny South Pacific nation recording increased business traveller arrivals from Australia.
The Solomon Islands is a hotspot for Australian conferences
Thanks to new Pacific Blue flights from Brisbane and increased awareness in the Australian market through public relations and marketing activity, the Solomon Islands recorded a 44 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the corresponding period in 2008.
Total visitor arrivals by air grew to 4,273 visitors compared with 2,973 visitors in the first quarter of 2008. Business traveler numbers grew by 34 per cent to 1,767 visitors in the first quarter of 2009, while leisure was up 28 per cent to 1,047 visitors.
Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau general manager, Michael Tokuru, said international visitor arrivals increases were primarily from Australia. He said he was optimistic numbers would continue to grow throughout 2009.
“Australia contributed 45 per cent of the total visitors’ arrivals in the first quarter of 2009,” he said. “Australia also contributed 52 per cent of the holiday travellers and 45 per cent of the business travellers to Solomon Islands in the first quarter of 2009.
“We are pleased with the results in the first quarter of 2009 and we are optimistic the second quarter results for 2009 will be as good or even better.
“The first quarter growth indicate that in spite of the global financial crisis holiday and business travellers are looking for new a business and conference destination and Solomon Islands is meeting that demand,” he said.
Over the past 12 months, Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau has undertaken public relations activity with Sydney agency Five Star PR that has resulted in unprecedented levels of editorial coverage for the South Pacific nation.
One of the major drawcards of the Solomon Islands is its war-time history – particularly on the island of Guadalcanal, which is the third largest island in the Solomon Islands and was a hotbed of political activity during the war.
The bitter Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 was the first major offensive attack by the Allies against Japan during the war. On the island, a top attraction for conference delegates is the Vilu WWII Outdoor Museum that has war relics such as American fighter planes through to Japanese artillery – on display in a unique outdoor setting.