The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) proposes that the Government promotes the inclusion of Solomon Islands to be in the Australia-New Zealand Travel Bubble.

Travel bubbles, also called travel bridges or corona corridors, do away with that waiting period for a select group of travellers from certain countries where the coronavirus has been contained. “In a ‘travel bubble’ a set of countries agree to open their borders to each other, but keep borders to all other countries closed.

Allowing Solomon Islands to be included in the bubble would have a major impact when the country is resetting its economy to rely less on logging.

SICCI Advocacy Officer Mr John Ta’amora says:  "SICCI sees this global pandemic as the chance to increase revenue from tourism as one key source of foreign exchange earnings."

"Not only that, but being included into this bubble will help tourism businesses survive 2020,” he added.

Mr Ta’amora said as a country we should note that geographically, Solomon Islands is one of the most well-placed Pacific nations to service the Australian and New Zealand markets almost immediately and ultimately get a head-start before the world opens up to travel again.

“When borders open up again across the world, the fight and huge competition for tourists will leave us far behind. Let’s not forget that our competitors have big tourism marketing budgets we cannot compete with, and extra effort and analysis has to be taken when we pursue niche markets.

"Therefore, an immediate step that could rescue our struggling tourism industry is to promote our new mitigating measures now that we have lessons from the recent lockdown, complemented by our new in country testing capability, these could all be persuasive arguments for Solomon Islands to be included in Travel Bubble with Australia and New Zealand,” the SICCI Advocacy Officer, Mr Ta’amora, said.

Tourism Solomons’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Josefa Tuamoto, in a media statement this week, has called on the Australia and New Zealand Governments to consider including Solomon Islands in a potential ‘South Pacific Travel Bubble’ when international travel restrictions are lifted.

“Australia and New Zealand travellers form bulk of the country’s international visitor intake and allowing the destination to be included in the bubble would have a major impact in resetting the Solomon Islands economy which relies heavily on tourism as one of its key sources of foreign exchange earnings,” Mr Tuamoto said.

All around the world, as countries decide how to restart international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of a travel bubble, sometimes called a travel corridor, is gaining steam.

The notion is simple, two or more countries that have successfully curtailed COVID-19 agree to create a bubble. People who live inside the bubble could then travel freely and avoid a mandatory self-quarantine requirement. Other travellers arriving from outside the bubble still must self-isolate for the mandated number of days.

About the author

Philip Lilomo is the Chamber's Media & Communications Officer. Philip writes most of the Chamber's media releases. He also manages the website contents, designs the Chamber's monthly newsletter, brochures and maintains the organisation's visual branding. 

Philip can be contacted on email: media@solomonchamber.com.sb 

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