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Tourism Solomons has celebrated the release of new figures showing the destination attracted more than 26,000 visitors in 2023,  its best result since reopening its border in July 2022. 

Tourism Solomons CEO (Acting), Dagnal Dereveke  said the release of the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO) figures revealed 26,036 international visitors travelled through Honiara International Airport between January and December 2023, signifying a promising trajectory for the destination’s tourism sector. 

While the 26,030 total fell short of the targeted 29,000 record number achieved in 2019, Mr Dereveke said 2023  had been characterised by concerted efforts from an  entire tourism sector bent on post-pandemic recovery and reaching pre-pandemic visitation levels. 

Acknowledging the result had been largely helped by the influx of influx of international athletes and spectators attending the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara last November, Mr Dereveke said he was optimistic of a stronger 2024 result given recent developments on the Australia-Solomon Islands flight sector. 

This includes Solomon Airlines’ increasing air capacity between Honiara and Brisbane, a resumed direct Brisbane-Munda service and the resumption of Qantas flights on the Brisbane-Honiara sector.

 “Going forward our 2024 marketing strategy revolves around continuing to place major efforts around our short haul markets where we have direct access to grow the numbers with planned joint marketing activities planned for this year 2024 with Solomon Airlines and key industry partners. 

Australian arrivals again dominated the figures, the 8688, while down on the 11,011 achieved in 2019, comprising 33 percent  of total visitation. 

Surprisingly Papua New Guinea and Fiji, traditionally the Solomon Islands’ fourth and fifth biggest sources of visitation, have jumped into second and third place respectively.

Papua New Guinea arrivals grew from 1649 in 2019 to reach 2356, an increase of 42 percent, while Fiji numbers grew by 24 percent, from 1839 to 2295. 

US visitation remained relatively steady at 1777, an overall decrease of 8.4 percent. 

New Zealand figures also declined by 8.1 percent, from 1954 in 2019 to 1795 in 2023. 

Mr Dereveke said he was confident of a solid increase in New Zealand numbers in 2024 thanks to a Solomon Airlines-Air Vanuatu collaboration instigated in June last year which provides more direct access to the Solomon islands for Kiwi travellers.

 “Considering the challenges we faced at the start of 2023, overall, the 2023 result marks a pivotal moment for our tourism sector and one that in 2024 we intend to consolidate across all sources of visitation,” he said. 

“We remain cautiously confident that via our continuing efforts, effective marketing, and increased  international confidence in the Solomon Islands, the destination will see an even stronger result across all target markets in the coming year.”