French Polynesia (Tahiti) has offered to help Solomon Islands develop its tourism industry and also proposed potential areas for wider Pacific regional cooperation in airline services and restrictive fishing limits.
These agendas were discussed in a meeting between Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare and the French Polynesian President, His Excellency Edouard Fritch in Honolulu, Hawaii, yesterday Friday 2nd September. The meeting followed the conclusion of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders and the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Pacific Ocean Summit, which both leaders attended.
On the tourism help proposal, President Fritch said French Polynesia is willing to share its tourism expertise and experiences with Solomon Islands to help improve its tourism industry and on that note offered to host the Solomon Islands Minister for Tourism in Tahiti on a look and learn trip and also send its tourism experts to Solomon Islands.
As for the proposition for regional airline services, the French President said the establishment of a regional airline is an excellent idea that could promote multi-destination tourism.
He said with the introduction of multi-destination tourism packages by a Pacific regional airline, tourists could travel to a number of countries on a single multi-destination trip for a wholesome Pacific cultural and sightseeing experience.
On restrictive fishing limits, President Fritch said French Polynesia and Solomon Islands could push for a Pacific regional restrictive fishing plan at the 47th Pacific Islands Forum in the Federated State of Micronesia next week.
He said the plan would protect fishery resources in each and every Exclusive Economic Zone in the Pacific from over-harvesting, adding that fisheries are the survival and economics of Pacific nations.
In response, Prime Minister Sogavare welcomed the help offered by the French President to Solomon Islands tourism industry and the proposition for a Pacific regional cooperation to advance common Pacific interests.
“I welcome your offer of help in terms of tourism and I’m also willing to talk about Pacific regional cooperation in the areas proposed. I have no problem with that.
“As a matter of fact the strength of our Pacific Island nations lie in working together and speaking with one voice on issues of our collective interest and concern.”
He said regional airlines proposition is a great idea that could be operated by way of a codeshare agreement amongst the different Pacific nations.
The Prime Minister said he has been considering the idea of entering into codeshare arrangements with some Asian airlines to provide services to and from Solomon Islands to certain Asian destinations to tap into the huge Asian Tourist market.
On restrictive fishing limits, Prime Minister Sogavare said this is an agenda worth consideration to enhance ongoing Pacific efforts to save its fisheries from over harvesting.
On this note, he expressed admiration for the collective initiatives taken by the Micronesian states to conserve their marine resources under the ‘Micronesian Challenge’ and also Hawaii’s ‘Aloha Plus Challenge’ – a statewide commitment by the American island state to sustainability.
He said these initiatives pose a great challenge to Melanesian countries to work together to conserve their vast landmasses and reefs that are in peril from logging, pollution and unsafe fishing practices.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare and his delegation are scheduled to depart Honolulu for Sydney tomorrow, Sunday 4th September en route to Honiara.