Santo Tourism business operators cheer as Solomon Airlines resumes direct Brisbane flights

Compiled by Sabrina Tabi

International air services were re-connected to Santo this week through the Solomon Airlines, reconnecting direct flights from the island, to Brisbane in Australia.

This resumption of service is a badly needed shot in the arm for the tourism industry who are looking forward to getting back to business.

The Vanuatu Daily Post spoke to several tour operators on Santo island who all expressed gratitude for this initiative taken by the government.

Timmy Rovu, one of the local tour operators said this reconnection of flight will greatly benefit their businesses as they are now expecting to receive more tourists on the island.

“The flights have just resumed, but slowly we will see its positive impacts on our businesses, especially as a tour operator…there are lots of tourism sites here on Santo that I know most tourists would love to visit,” he said.

The Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) has supported this initial launch with an investment value of over Vatu (VT) 1.2 million for a social media campaign across Southeast Queensland so far reaching over 1.3 million people.

According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of VTO, Mrs. Adela Issachar Aru, the Santo tourism industry have also been very active getting the message out to generate business as soon as possible.

“The VTO have also received a positive response to the recommencement of the flights from our international trade partners who are looking forward to working through the opportunities to promote the service,” she said.

“In addition to the campaign there will be signage in Brisbane airport promoting Santo. We look forward to working with Solomons Airlines, the industry, and government on a marketing plan. We will all need to work together to make the route a success. It is important for all of Santo, not just tourism.

“The resumption of domestic flights also remains critical in the success of this service.”

“Without this commitment to maintaining air services, economic growth for the Northern Islands would be difficult. We are looking forward to working together to make this service sustainable,” said Rayman Leung, Chairman of the Espiritu Santo Tourism Association (ESTA).

The new weekly service, Flight IE726, departs Brisbane every Thursday at 9:00AM, landing in Santo at 12:50PM local time. The return journey begins at 1:50 PM from Santo to Port Vila, and then at 3:35PM from Port Vila to Brisbane, arriving at 5:40PM.

Bookings can be made at The service also provides excellent opportunities for the export of cargo and simple travel for residents.