The Western Province Tourism Association (WPTA) and Strongim Bisnis are in partnership to develop a ‘Western Trail’ to improve the visitor experience and boost opportunities for local tourism operators. In a year-long partnership signed in June 2018 with Strongim Bisnis, WPTA will link a number of natural and cultural-based attractions and tourism activities such as diving, surfing, bird watching, and fishing into a package that they’re calling the Western Trail.
We expect the Western Trail to lead to the development of other visitor flow trails in Solomon Islands, and present economic opportunities for women and young people in rural areas,” said Lorenz Wild, Business Partnerships Director of Strongim Bisnis. The Western Trail is based on an innovative model of destination management, ‘the St Gallen model’, a first in Solomon Islands which will help manage the flow of visitors to tourist sites. It does this by analysing the behavior of tourists to understand what they are doing, where, with whom and how much they are likely to spend. This helps operators to align products and services with visitor behavior. WTPA will also be supported by Strongim Bisnis to increase its membership numbers and train tour operators to build skills in the culinary arts, tour guiding, customer service, digital marketing and resort management. Ivan Maike, WPTA President, said training will help to build the capacity of its members, grow the association, strengthen members’ businesses and improve the visitor experience for tourists. “WPTA’s partnership with Strongim Bisnis will strengthen benefits to WPTA’s members and the industry as a whole, which we expect will result in improved destination collaboration and information sharing” he said. The signing of the agreement is well timed as a new international airport in Munda, Western Province, is preparing to receive international tourists on direct flights from Brisbane later this year. WPTA is inviting tourism operators in the Western Province to join the association and benefit from its capacity building program. They can contact WPTA in Gizo on 7466836, or in Munda on 7496988.