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Solomons to reopen after tourism decimation

More than two years after closing borders, the Solomon Islands will fully reopen to international visitors from July 1, while domestic travel restrictions have eased from June 1.

Any international arrivals have so far needed exemptions, and beginning this month, the post-arrival quarantine period for all international travellers will be six days, the government confirmed.

Inbound travellers must be vaccinated and have a negative PCR test within 72-hours of arrival, alongside a negative RAT test within 12-hours.

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“We might still retain a shorter quarantine period of three days after the full reopening of our borders on July 1,” said Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Picture: Flickr

Exemptions apply for children who cannot be vaccinated, and a review of the mandatory period will be conducted by the end of July.

“We might still retain a shorter quarantine period of three days after the full reopening of our borders on July 1,” said Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

The government is also encouraging home quarantine and will restrict institutional quarantine centres to returning nationals who can’t get home quarantine. Foreign nationals without home quarantine facilities are expected to pay for their hotel-based quarantine stay.

Like fellow travel operators, Solomon Airlines has kicked off preparations for increased traffic and anticipates the gradual recovery of an ailing industry.

Local restrictions that ease from June 1 include domestic shipping and travel, international cargo vessels and large social gatherings such as churches, weddings, sporting activities and nightclubs.

“To start we have adjusted our domestic schedule effective from 6 June to prepare for inbound connections on Friday from our Brisbane to Honiara service and to ensure the ability to add capacity to domestic routes such as Munda, Gizo, Auki, and Santa Cruz, where we are already seeing increasing booking demand,” said CEO, Brett Gebers.

The airline will also look at resuming its weekly Tuesday flight to Fiji, which reopened internationally in December 2021 and welcomed over 46,000 visitors this past April.

“Regular commercial travel to Vanuatu and Kiribati is not yet possible due to the border restrictions of those countries, however, we look forward to resuming flights between Honiara, Port Vila, and Tarawa in due course,” Mr Gebers added.

More than two years after closing borders, the Solomon Islands will fully reopen to international visitors from July 1, while domestic travel restrictions have eased from June 1. Picture: Tourism Solomons

Borders first shut to international travel in April 2020, as the Solomon Islands declared a state of emergency to counter the threat of global infections. Though cases have been positively minimal until early this year, the lull in international arrivals since April 2020 has ultimately cost tourism, with an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of tourism businesses ceasing operations.

The first Covid-19 community transmissions were reported in January and the government has realigned its focus to managing infections with Covid-safe protocols and increased vaccination coverage as part of “the new normal”.

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Recent surveys by its Ministry of Culture and Tourism have also deemed the tourism sector well ahead of other segments in COVID preparations.

Cabinet approved the July 1 reopening on the recommendations of the Border Opening Committee of the COVID-19 Oversight Committee.

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