According to a recent survey conducted by the Tourism Division on the tourism sector in Solomon Islands is well prepared for a planned border re-opening.
This is highlighted by high vaccination rates among tourism staff and managers, and willingness to follow directives from health authorities.
Additionally, larger hotels in Honiara have implemented covid-safe protocols of international standards. A number of resorts and live-aboard vessels that can operate as a “bubble” with limited contact with surrounding communities were also identified through the survey.
The tourism industry is the sector that has been hardest hit due to the covid-pandemic.
Since March 2020 no tourists have entered the country, and business travel have been strictly limited to small number of essential staff.
This has devastated the tourism sector with the majority of tourism staff losing their jobs and many operators going out of businesses. An estimated 60-70 % of tourism businesses have ceased operations.
This represents a loss of 1500 + jobs. It is unknown how many of these operators will be able to re-open again once borders open again. Remaining operators are on the verge of bankruptcy with staff on heavily reduced hours and/or salaries.
The survey found that staff and managers in the tourism sector are highly motivated to implement covid-safe protocols. Vaccination rates of tourism staff is among the highest of any sector, with 65 % fully vaccinated, with an additional 25 % having had the first jab.
The large hotels in Honiara have very good covid-safe protocols in place and could be some of the first to welcome tourists again. Amongst the vast majority (98 %) of the operators there is a willingness to take part in the Minimum Standards Covid Extra Care training offered by MCT.
In support of the tourism sectors covid-readiness, the Tourism Division has published detailed guidelines on how to implement covid-safe protocols. The “Minimum Standards Covid-19 Extra Care Standard Operating Procedures for Tourism Businesses in Solomon Islands” can be downloaded from Tourism Solomons corporate website. The SOPs are based in the MS extra Care training developed by MCT.
Currently the Tourism Division is preparing to roll out the second phase of this training together with Ministry of Health. Additionally, awareness brochures are currently being distributed to tourism operators throughout the country with the help of provincial tourism offices.
The survey and the Covid-19 SOPs can be downloaded here: