ECOTOURISM EYED FOR SOLOMONS’ MALAITA ISLAND

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By Uriel Matanani

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 18) - An ecotourism feasibility study carried out in the Central Kwara’ae [Malaita] region of the Solomon Islands has just been completed by local consultant Jackson Leaburi.

[PIR editor’s note: Malaita island is located north of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.]

The groundwork study was presented to Central Kwara’ae Member of Parliament and Leader of Opposition Fred Fono on Friday.

Mr. Leaburi told Solomon Star that the two months ground work-study focused mainly on identifying key areas within Central Kwara’ae that could be turned into potential tourism products.

"We have been going around looking at natural, historical and archaeological sites including other tourism resources in order to promote them into the tourism market overseas," Leaburi said. "We’ve designed tourism packages that include adventure trekking, cultural activities, home stays and others that can be used to tap into these untouched resources."

Leaburi said report would not only benefit people in Central Kwara’ae but the whole province.

Mr. Fono, who received the report on behalf of his people, thanked those who took part in the study and called out on everyone to actively make use of it.

He said the report forms the basis for eco-tourism development and is an added product within other income generating activities such as gardening and pig rearing.

"If taken seriously eco-tourism will broaden the economic base within the area," Fono said.

He added that a budget has already been put aside for the next three years for his constituency to use in order to develop tourism.

"For the next three years Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) funding and other financial supporters will assist us in developing this industry," he said. "We will help train our people to become local tourist operators, help them design their own tourism packages and also provide financial assistance."

He said tourism in the area has great potential but needs to be properly packaged so that it is more appealing within the tourism market.

"We have a lot to offer to our visitors but how to carry it out has not been properly assessed," Fono said. "I call on everyone to consider this opportunity seriously and help develop, preserve and market our area to the outside world."

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