By EDDIE OSIFELO
WOMEN vendors at the Honiara Craft Centre are struggling to sell their products to domestic and international visitors since its opening on 2nd November 2018.
This was due to low turnout of customers or tourists to purchase their products like carvings, fashion clothes like lava-lava printing, artifacts, art works and paintings.
According to Solomon Islands National Art Gallery (SINAG), some of the carvings are the finest in the Pacific region and made from rose wood, kerosene wood, king and queen ebony wood with shell inlays.
Other products displayed include hand woven products ranging from baskets, mats, fans, light shades, fruit trays, coffee tables, table mats, coasters, clutch purse etc.
SINAG said these products are woven by artisans from different provinces throughout the Solomon Islands.
Dalcy Rex of Marovo in Western province said in good weeks, the income was around $5000 a day.
She said sometimes their products were not sold for two to three days.
“Our clients are mostly from government Ministries and few tourists from Japan and Europe,” she said.
Betty Akao, who operates Betzla Art & Craft, said the sales are fast and slow at times.
She said sometimes two to four days their products were not sold.
However, she said patience is the key in such business because of the need to pay schools fees and food for their families.
Loretta Rembi of Kavachi shop said it’s a tough business because of slow response from customers to pay their products.
She said they have to wait for number of days before people from the government Ministries and expatriates returning home could buy their products.
Further to that, Loretta, a retired nurse, said some of the challenges in the craft centre iare lack of sanitations facilities and low arrival of cruise ships.
She said in Vanuatu, tourists arrived every week on cruise ships so operators could sell their products very quickly.
According to Ministry of Culture and Tourism, some of the objectives of the Honiara Craft Centre and Art Gallery are still to be achieved like building sanitations and online portal for marketing.
MCT said lack of budget availability contributes to the delay of fulfilling these objectives.
The women vendors are hoping the government will fulfill these objectives to help attract more visitors in future.
This article was produced from the “Economics of Tourism” training for journalists in Honiara funded by the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) in partnership with Strongim Bisnis