Rounding out another positive 12 months for the Solomon Islands' tourism fortunes, international visitation for the period January – December 2016 has surpassed set targets for the second year running.
Figures released recently by the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office show the destination received a total of 23,192 international visitors for the 12-month period – a 7.3 per cent increase over the total achieved in 2015.
On an individual country basis, Australian visitor arrivals again led the way, the 9539 total recorded for the period slightly increasing by 0.3 per cent to account for 41.1 per cent of the 2015 total.
New Zealand more than cemented its number two spot, a 1544 figure recorded for 2016 marking a 6.4 per cent increase over the 1451 Kiwis visiting in 2015.
Fiji visitor arrivals also gained – up 12.2 per cent in 2016 – while US and Papua New Guinea arrivals again showed growth, figures increasing by 5.4 per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively.
However on a regional basis, combined Asia figures jumped a massive 26.7 per cent, a factor Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau (SIVB) CEO, Josefa 'Jo' Tuamoto attributing the positive result to the efforts his marketing team has gone to in the region across 2016.
"We know we have attracted very strong attention from a dive-crazy Asian audience which has become very aware of the superb quality of both our coral and WWII wreck diving," Mr Tuamoto said.
"But is also very pleasing to see us continue to make gains in our four biggest source markets – Australia, New Zealand, the US and Papua New Guinea – which continue to perform well."
"Key to everything we do is to continue to broaden the Solomon Islands' overseas appeal to attract a more diverse range of visitors.
"The 75th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign and the corresponding commemoration of the John F.Kennedy rescue in August this year holds huge potential for us to boost our 2017 numbers.
"But we know we need to continue to examine how we do things and get them right if we are to take that quantum leap and propel our country's tourism fortunes into the future."