Between 19-29th September the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) hosted a group of foreign investors looking for tourism investment opportunities in Solomon Islands. The high-profile visit was the result of the Dubai World Expo 2020. Before the Expo, MCT and International Finance Corporation (IFC) prepared a booklet of available land suitable for tourism development.
This booklet proved to be very popular at the Dubai Expo. The contact with this group of investors was developed by the Solomon Islands expo staff, in particular pavilion director Mr. Dennis Marita, Director of Culture and Ambassador H.E Mr. Moses K. Mosé, Solomon Islands Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, who were instrumental in convincing the investors to come to Solomon Islands.
During the 10-day tour the Dubai based tourism entrepreneurs were visiting Western Province, Guadalcanal and Central Province, accompanied by the MCT officers. The team consisted of:
- Alessandro Rosso – Italian tourism professional known for developing the world’s first 7-star hotel, three award winning resorts in the Maldives and many other tourism operations.
- Pietro Scanavino – Italian tourism and hospitality professional based in Dubai, and
- Mohamad Shambi Mohamad Albloushi – Emirati entrepreneur and associate of Mr. Rosso
During the tour they met with relevant government departments, tourism stakeholders and private sector businesses. In total 42 meetings and 26 site visits. At a dinner hosted by Ministry of Culture and Tourism they met with Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labor, and Immigration, Tourism Solomons, and other senior government officials. The three investors said they were impressed by the beauty of the islands, the friendliness of the people they met during their time here. They were also appreciative of the speedy assistance by Invest Solomon to register their company. However, there is more work to do, to prepare the Solomon Islands to become more foreign investment friendly. During meetings with MCT minister Bartholomeu Parapolo and Permanent Secretary Bunyan Sivoro a plan of action was developed outlining how to assist the investors to realize their plans. Mr. Rosso and his associates will return to Solomon Islands later this year to follow up on the progress of the project.
The investors trip to Solomon Islands also highlighted that Mohamad Albloushi was the first Emirati to have his visa granted on arrival in Solomon Islands, a result of a diplomatic agreement signed by the Solomon Islands Government and United Arab Emirates.
Ministry of Culture and Tourism and IFC have started the profiling and promotion of tourism investment ready sites in Western Province. Similar work will be carried out in other provinces, starting with Guadalcanal and Central Provinces under the Accessing Land for Tourism Investment Facilitation (ALTIF) project which is funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).