The annual Samoa Tourism Exchange 2018 was officially opened last night at the Taumeasina Island Resort.
The occasion was blessed by the government chaplain, Reverend Fuimaono Lautofu Afamasaga, with the keynote speech given by the Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati.
Sala welcomed the travel trade and media experts from all over the world as well as the local tourism industry members.
“This Samoa Tourism Exchange provides a key business to business networking opportunity for Samoa’s growing tourism industry to discuss and enhance business contractual arrangements with key international travel trade specialists and communication experts.
“The exchange was first started in 2008 as a platform to discuss important topics, to facilitate tourism development for business to business network sessions or tourism exchange as we see it today.
“In the last 10 years, the tourism forum and tourism exchange has developed to become two separate main events. This would not have been possible without the support of our airlines Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Virgin Airlines and our very own Samoa Airways.”
This year’s tourism exchange has shown the highest number of trade and media participants than any other previous year and Sala said it was a promising sign despite all of the challengesover the last year.
“We have progressed through all seasonal challenges, be it fluctuating airfares, health outbreaks advisories, our industry continues to develop and remain open for business and with that, thank you.”
“We are welcoming over 72 trade and media participants from New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, China, South Korea and American Samoa.
“Our buying partners are here because they see business opportunities to attract growing tourist and visitor numbers for sustainable businesses. We shall ensure that our holidays and hospitality services provided are the best value for money, hence our theme ‘keeping it beautiful and keeping it real’.”
Samoa’s Tourism C.E.O., Papalii Sonja Hunter said to the Samoa Observer that she looked forward to increased visitor arrivals going forward and that these types of events are working in terms of putting Samoa on the map.
“Yes it’s working. You can tell by the expression of interest from overseas,” said Papalii.
“Look at the wholesalers, there are 72 of them. Usually we attract around 52. It’s also attributable to our national carrier, Samoa Airways, as well as the other international airlines like Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways - they continue to do their fair bit as well.”
Following the opening ceremony, there were performances by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) Youth group and Cindy of Samoa.
Co-ordinated and organised by the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) to further market Samoa as a tourism destination, the travel trade and media experts will receive updates on some of their favourite Samoan products to further promote Samoa to its key source markets.
The Samoa Tourism Exchange is a three-day event with the official closing ceremony to take place at the Sheraton Aggie Greys Resort.