Taxpayers will fork out at least $60,000 to stage Samoa’s first Super rugby fixture between the Auckland Blues and Queensland Reds in June this year.
Confirmed by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, the money will come from the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) rather than the Samoa Rugby Union.
“We are giving out $60,000 tala through the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A),” Tuilaepa responded to a question from the Weekend Observer.
“The other money will be collected from overseas from other partners who are interested to support us with hosting the game.”
Tuilaepa said the match is a golden opportunity for Samoa tourism.
“We were able to get this opportunity through S.T.A, and the main idea is to increase the number of people to visit Samoa,” he said.
The match is initially a home fixture for the Blues but they have decided to bring it to Samoa.
According to Tuilaepa, the decision fits perfectly with his government’s push to promote sports tourism.
Tuilaepa is confident a lot of people will be coming to Samoa for the game.
“You have to remember, when the players travel, their families always go to support them as well.
“Their parents, partners, children and fans travel too to support them.
“Especially the players who are Samoans. For most of these (Samoan) players, they have never been to Samoa, and their families have been away from Samoa for a very long time.
“This is an opportunity for them to visit their families and relatives in Samoa.”
Tuilaepa thought back to two years ago when Samoa hosted the historical match between the Manu Samoa and the All Blacks at Apia Park Stadium.
“A lot of people came to watch and support that game. And that is why we wanted to bring this game to Samoa as well,” he said.
“Especially for these two teams as there are a lot of Samoans playing for these two teams.
“For the Auckland Blues, there are fifteen Samoan players playing for this team, and their Head Coach, Tana Umaga, who is a former captain for the All Blacks and a Samoan too.
“For the Queensland Reds, there are eight Samoans, playing in the team.
“So there will be a lot of people coming to watch this game.”
Tuilaepa said this is a good opportunity for hoteliers and many other businesses.
“This will contribute a lot to the development of our tourism sector and also helps a lot of our businesses in Samoa. Bringing big games like these will just help our people and their businesses.”