The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Bunyan Sivoro officially launched the Ministry of Culture and Tourism COVID-19 Extra Care report on November 16, 2022 at Heritage Park Hotel.
During a launch to mark the successful implementation of the tourism COVID-19 extra care awareness and trainings to the tourism industry, Sivoro said the COVID-19 Extra Care program was one of the largest challenges ever undertaken by his ministry.
“When COVID-19 was declared as a global pandemic, it has changed the entire outlook of the tourism value chain globally and so it was critical for the local industry to adapt to “The New Normal,” he highlighted. “We quickly developed covid-safe guidelines and incorporated them as part of the overall minimum standard requirement for the tourism industry.”
He added that MCT took a proactive approach, by reaching out to other ministries and donors for assistance. The first step of the program was to sign an MOU with Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), who provided advisory and technical assistance, as well as health trainers.
“Our main aim was to train our local tourism industry workforce on the new COVID-19 health requirement as part of our preparedness to ensure they deliver safe environment and experiences for their staff and visitors when borders reopen,” Sivoro further stated.
The training and equipment of the tourism operators were also expected to give confidence to our country’s visitors when they come and stay with our local operators.
Rachel Sibisopere, Tourism Extra Care Coordinator of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism presented the Tourism COVID-19 Extra Care trainings and awareness roll out to the key stakeholders who attended the report launch. The implementation areas she lighted including;
During his presentation, Sivoro commended the generous support from the implementing partners like the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, which provided its technical medical staffs; the Australian Aid program through the Strongim Bisnis which funded the actual costs of the Extra Care roll out; New Zealand Aid program to assist with a technical advisor, Bjorn Svensson who provided the program coordination throughout the Extra Care roll out; the tourism industry players- accommodation providers, tour operators, transport providers, diver operators, training institutions; private sector operators who involved in the roll out, particularly, the Solomon Airlines staffs who were supportive throughout the implementation of the program; and the trainers and staffs of the Tourism Solomons and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“In my career in Government I have never experienced such an effective collaboration among ministries, organizations and development partners. I wish the COVID-19 Extra Care program can serve as a model for such collaboration in the future,” Sivoro said.
The stakeholders attended the launch of the Tourism COVID-19 Extra Care training and awareness report included the Australian Aid, Strongim Bisnis, New Zealand High Commission, International Finance Corporation, Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Tourism Solomons, and Solomon Airlines.