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Part of $134,000 tourism budget

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 31, 2009) – Tourism Minister Seth Gukuna says his ministry will sponsor more students to undertake the certificate course at Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE).

The sponsorship is part of the Ministry’s ongoing assistance towards the Tourism and Hospitality school that opened at SICHE this year.

The Ministry has sponsored 10 of the 33 students that enrolled this year. Mr. Gukuna in response to MP for Temotu Nende, Patterson Oti’s question, said the Ministry will sponsor more students next year.

He said the call for applications will be put out in the media around September. Gukuna said this is part of his Ministry’s long term plan to improve tourism industry in the country.

As part of short term training, Mr Gukuna said his Ministry plans to hold five courses this year. He said this training targets mainly the existing tourism operators.

"Last year we conducted around 6-7 courses in hospitality and tourism training," he said. "The quick training come about to help our barman and waiters in delivering services to customers."

However, he said the tourism industry still got a long way to go before reaching the expected standard of service. He said currently, finance is the main constraint that slows down the progress of this industry. But he said everything takes time before reaching the standard everyone wants.

Government has allocated $1 million [US$134, 000] under its development budget for tourism.

Gukuna said part of the money goes towards setting up the school at SICHE and assistance for students.

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