2 Oct 2007

Solomon's Visitor Bureau expecting increase in visitor numbers

10:50 am on 2 October 2007

The Solomon Islands Visitor Bureau says it is excited at the possibility of more tourists after Pacific Blue applied to the International Air Services Commission to fly to Solomon Islands.

The Virgin Blue offshoot airline has lodged an application for 540 seats a week for flights on the Australia to Solomon Islands route for five years, starting in November 2008.

But Sky Air World is also lodging an application to fly to the Solomons, seven days a week.

The Bureau's General manager, Michael Tokuru, says for the year to September 2006, there were 5,443 visitor arrivals, mainly from Australia and New Zealand.

He says with more competition and cheap airfares, its likely tourist numbers would more than double, and Australia is one of their top markets.

"We at the Visitor's Bureau are hoping that things will be opening up and that will create an increase numbers here to the Solomon Islands, because that's basically what we are trying to do here at the Visitors Bureau. We're trying to get the numbers, especially holiday travellers here to Solomon Islands within the next three years."

Michael Tokuru says as a result the tourism industry will have to start looking at ways to expand its capacity, so it can accommodate more visitors.