Ocean View Lodge Gizo, Navigating the ‘COVID Adversities’
BY KHAMA LINCOLN
Isles Media Freelance Reporter in Gizo
WITH the obvious economic challenges posed by the COVID pandemic in the country, entrepreneurs in various tourism sectors are amongst those facing the decline in revenue in recent years.
Ocean view lodge at Gizo Town is one of many accommodation operators in the Western Province that has experienced a decline in local and international clients and tourists.
Meet the Owner and founder Reuben Jagilly an accountant by profession, who shared his knowledge and experiences in the tourism industry as well as challenges his business is facing.
Ocean-view lodge is situated in an area in the provincial headquarters called Jah Mountain.
Jagilly said the initial establishment of his family business was a “trial and error” when started in 2013.
“I have gone through many hardships and it’s not that easy with sleepless nights and a lot of money spent on materials.” He said. “Initially it’s a trial and error, then we are slowly moving after registering with the company haus.”
“This is a family business and we don’t usually receive so many quests, and the coronavirus really affected us. He said. “There are times, we have zero clients, but at least we maintain continuity of the business.”
Jagilly pointed out that, the usual opportunity for Ocean View Lodge is when organizations held workshops in Gizo, he said, that’s also when his accommodation able to receive clients to keep the business going.
He said, what drives him to venture into the business is not only to apply his knowledge in business accounting but to be a job creator in the tourism industry’s hospitality sector.
“One thing I want to highlight is no matter I have a degree; I don’t want to work for any company.” He said. I want to be a role model, a job creator. We have to create employment.”
What I found out in my research is we Solomon Islanders are rich people, we only need a change of mentality, we need the mentality to work and utilize our resources wisely.”
My product here is, I provide rooms for clients and also tourists who want sightseeing, I can transport them to west Gizo. Other activities are Island Picnic and Fishing arrangement.”
Ocean-view Lodge also has an area at Gizo seafront for guests who want to go out and relax.”
However, while the local tourism industry has often highlighted western province as the country’s “tourism hub,” the softly spoken father who is a native of the Volcanic Island of Simbo, pointed out that, that is still far from reality in the practical sense.
“People start to forget the traditional way of living” he pointed out. Cultural activities are no longer active.
What is the western Province brand, we have it but is not put into practice. People in the villages must come up strong with their culture, and our tourism association needs to be revived.
Jagilly’s Ocean View lodge is built on a location with a “million-dollar view” looking out to Gizo Harbour and the beautiful scenes beyond where other smaller Islands with resorts can be clearly sighted during a bright day. Ocean view is also a location where a guest will experience a cool breeze from the ocean.
“Tourism is environment friendly and biblical,” the passionate tourism operator said. Let’s go into a business that keeps the environment.”
Jagilly said, ocean view lodge now accommodating nurses working at the Gizo Hospital, and that arrangement was made through his wife who’s a health officer in the Hospital.
He said, keeping nurses who are working on shifts is risky, while the nurses are very cautious and mindful of their movement. They do regular checks for covid and will remain in the lodge if the results are negative.
My wife teaches us about health knowledge and we also apply decontamination of beds. We’re looking forward to buying our own equipment for mixing and spraying.”
And in terms of customer services his family handled the guests with care and was always available to attend to their needs.
“We have to be very friendly with our guests, talk nice to them, handle them with care and always be there for them,” Jagilly said.
“Success comes through own sweat, and you have to be creative with your knowledge. All in all, I thank God, the provider of everything and for helping my family to reach this far.”
Meanwhile, he also mentioned his expectations to help in the continuity and expansion of the business. He wishes to receive funding support from the government to keep the business going and also for expansion.
“If there’s any financial assistance from aid donors to improve the standard requirements. He said. Many things to dream about but it depends on money.”
I don’t believe in loans; a loan is a liability controlled by the bank. If it’s on default they will take over. The manager pointed out.
Jagilly said, Ocean View is operating on a smaller scale, and is competing with resorts, Gizo Hotel, and other popular operators. He said, what also drives him is to participate in the local economy and to apply his knowledge.