Aussie arrivals to the Solomons is up as its national carrier fills Air Vanuatu gap

Aussie arrivals to the Solomons is up as its national carrier fills Air Vanuatu gap
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Australian arrivals to the Solomon Islands are up 4 per cent, new statistics show, just days after Solomon Islands’ national carrier added more direct flights to Port Vila, Vanuatu, from Auckland.

    Tourism Solomons revealed its best first quarter international visitor intake since 2019, with Australian numbers up from 1426 to 1484.

    Figures released by the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO) for Q1 show the destination attracted a total of 4903 visitors, an increase of 24 per cent over the 3940 achieved for the same period in 2023.

    New Zealand numbers too increased, up 39 per cent from 236 to 329 while numbers from Fiji rose 11 per cent from 399 to 358.

    The strongest result came from Papua New Guinea where visitor numbers increased from 261 to 478 for the quarter, an increase of more than 84 per cent.

    The only dip across all visitor sources came from the US where visitor arrivals dropped 5 per cent, from 351 to 330.

    While the 2024 Q1 numbers fall short of the 6042 achieved in Q1 of the record-breaking 2019, Tourism Solomons CEO (acting), Dagnal Dereveke said concerted marketing efforts in tandem with partner Solomon Airlines were obviously paying dividends.

    “Our 2024 marketing strategy continues to be fixed on rebuilding and growing the numbers in our key source markets,” Dereveke said.

    Solomon Airlines adds Auckland to Port Vila flights

    In other news, Solomon Islands officials together with the Vanuatu Government have worked closely with relevant New Zealand authorities to continue interim flights servicing Auckland from Port Vila.

    This included responding to charter requests to ensure seasonal workers and stranded tourists were able to move between the two nations following the news of Air Vanuatu’s involuntary liquidation.

    Solomon Airlines was previously operating on behalf of Air Vanuatu between Port Vila and Auckland on Mondays, and Auckland and Port Vila on Tuesdays, as part of an extensive Pacific partnership between the carriers including codeshare, supplementing Air Vanuatu’s existing operations.

    Solomon Airlines will now commence its own scheduled services in support of Air Vanuatu’s repositioning for their flight resumptions. The schedule will commence from 27 May, with twice-weekly flights between Honiara, Port Vila and Auckland from 1 July anticipated.

    IE710 will operate from Port Vila to Auckland on Mondays at 5:50pm arriving in Auckland at 10:05pm, and IE711 will depart Auckland on Tuesdays at 12pm, arriving in Port Vila 2:15pm.

    Solomon Airlines is aware of the importance to many stakeholders of efficient and direct air services linking Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Zealand.

    “Turning 62 this year, Solomon Airlines is one of the oldest airlines in the Pacific region and is committed long term to ensuring easy flight access for our people, our visitors and friends, our seasonal workers and corporate travellers who need to move within the region,” the airline said.

    The airline remains committed to working in partnership with Air Vanuatu together with the Vanuatu Government and current administrators to provide support while the necessary processes are being followed as the country work towards the return of its national carrier, Air Vanuatu.

    “Solomon Airlines remains committed and look forward to the resumption of Air Vanuatu and Solomon Airlines strong mutual relations going forward,” it said.

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