Niche wholesaler travel&co is encouraging retail agents to look beyond the challenges posed by travel to the Solomon Islands and look at the opportunities – especially when it comes to the dive market.
Laura Hutchings, active travel expert with travel&co, says the company has a focus on the Solomon Islands this year anyway. However she has returned from the destination’s travel trade showcase Mi Save Solo and two weeks of exploring and diving with new enthusiasm. ‘I would highly recommend that divers explore the islands and regions, so it is ideal for people with a bit more time. A place like Tulagi is only an hour west of Guadacanal and the diving there is amazing. But to really experience the culture and the people you want to stay in a bungalow and get out to the remote areas. That way you really experience the true isolation of the Solomons.’
Hutchings says retail agents need to manage their clients’ expectations. ‘People need to be relaxed travellers – the domestic planes remind me of a hop on, hop off bus experience.’
She says while hotels with all the modern comforts are easy to find in and around Honiara, that is not always the case further afield. ‘You may have to accept a cold shower, and sometimes there is no power. Some places have the one meal available, there is no menu. But on the other side, guests not only have their own bungalow, but a whole island to themselves.’
Hutchings says in two weeks she had about 20 dives. ‘I found something new and interesting at each place. The wrecks, marine life, corals and colours are all amazing and the water temperature is up to around 30 degrees.
(Source: TRAVELink MEMO 12th July 2019; issue 2016)