Kiwis urged to 'go for it' as Solomon Islands, Vanuatu reopen to tourists

As more of the Pacific reopens its borders to the rest of the world, tourism experts in New Zealand are advising Kiwis to “go for it” and help the economies rebuild after more than two years of closure.

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will open on July 1, with Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia a month later on August 1.

Massey University’s senior lecturer in development, Apisalome Movono, said Kiwis had the perfect opportunity to be the “best tourists in the world” and set the global standard when visiting the vulnerable Pacific.

Movono’s colleague, Pacific research and policy centre co-director Regina Scheyvens, said the pandemic pause should inspire holidaying Kiwis to focus on improving the wellbeing of people in the islands.

Tonga has yet to set a date as it recovers from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami and a coronavirus outbreak.

Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu remain closed.

Scheyvens said Kiwis should take up the opportunity to visit the Pacific when they could.

“Go for it, but realise there’s more to Pacific destinations than sand and sunshine – the people are wonderful,” she said.

Movono said Pacific nations had learnt from each other when it came to border reopenings.

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Samoa had been fine examples of putting their people first and were among those countries who chose to resume tourism on their own terms, he said.

“Throughout the pandemic, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have been cautious rather than getting back to normal as soon as possible,” Movono said.

Scheyvens said Samoa took a cautious approach, with Covid coming hot on the heels of a devastating measles outbreak that killed more than 80 people.

“Vanuatu has received accolades for the work they are doing in the agritourism space during the pandemic, so visitors should be ready to embrace opportunities to sample local produce – there will be some treats in store for the adventurous.”

Kiwis could be great tourists by learning more about their hosts and culture before hopping on a plane, she said.

Learning simple local words and sentences wouldn’t be too bad as well, Scheyvens said.

“Spend your money in ways that see money circulating in the local economy, buy fruit at markets and craft from roadside stalls, eat at local restaurants.

“Show respect for the people and environment wherever you go.

“Kiwis want international tourists to respect our country when they visit – we need to do the same when we travel elsewhere.”


Photo credit Vanuatu Tourism