Destinations

Solomon Islands’ tourism board urges government to reconsider planned Facebook ban

Tourism Solomons has called on the Solomon Islands government to urgently reconsider a proposed ban of Facebook.

According to the Solomon Times, a temporary ban of the global social media network was passed in Cabinet after being proposed by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Communication and Civil Aviation Minister Peter Shanel Agovaka.

Minister Agovaka told the Solomon Times that the Facebook ban was proposed due to concerns of abusive language being used against government ministers on the platform, along with character assassinations and defamation.

The Solomon Islands’ Communication and Civil Aviation Minister said there were also concerns around there being no laws or regulations on Facebook.

“The use of the internet now in Solomon Islands needs to be properly regulated to safeguard our young people from harmful content,” he said.

“At the moment, there is no legislation to govern the use of the internet and even young kids can be able to download harmful stuff from the internet.”

However, Tourism Solomons CEO Josefa Tuamoto said the decision to ban Facebook does not make sense from a business perspective, with the organisation – along with many other Solomon Islands-based businesses and the wider community – heavily dependent on the platform.

“We view social media as a key vehicle with which to maintain our tourism profile in the current COVID-19 environment, which has seen our international visitation grind to a complete halt,” he said.

“This environment has seen us turn to Facebook as integral to our international marketing and overall wider engagement, so from our perspective, this decision simply does not make business sense.”

Currently, 80 per cent of Tourism Solomons’ marketing activity takes place on Facebook, with just under 36,000 active users interacting with the national tourist office on a regular basis, according to Tuamoto.

“In the last 28 days alone, we have reached over 131,000 people,” he said.

“As a good example of the reach we achieve, a recent post featuring Ms Solomons, Gladys Habu, learning to dive in the Western Province attracted attention from over 92,000 users.

“It goes without saying the platform has become vital in our efforts to keep the Solomon Islands top of mind and competitive on the world tourism stage for the time when things return to normal.”

Tuamoto said no other social media platform comes close to what Tourism Solomons has been achieving via Facebook.

“We urgently request the government’s assistance in reconsidering the proposed ban given the implications it will have,” he said.

“And not just for our tourism sector, but for all Solomon Islands businesses and the wider community in general, which uses Facebook as a key means of communication across our 992-island archipelago.”

A date for implementation of the proposed ban has not as yet been announced.


Featured image source: iStock/luchezar

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