A country that maintains its authentically lifestyles, uniqueness and culture is a place that Amanda Johnson and Taliaoa John Loau will return to anytime.
Samoa is a place like this according to the Auckland-based couple.
Taliaoa John was born in Samoa and moved to New Zealand for six years but spent his childhood in Los Angeles, America before moving back to New Zealand and returned to Samoa in 2003.
“It’s a strange feeling coming back to the beginning, which is so familiar,” he said.
Over the years he came for family reunions and last November he returned with Amanda for the first time as a tourist, and visited Savai’i on top of checking out different Resorts (Sheraton, Tanoa, Taumeasina).
“We went around the island because we didn’t know what there is to do. It was Amanda’s first time here and it has been amazing to discover together Samoa for the first time,” he said.
Amanda was more straight forward about her experience, saying she preferred Samoa over Fiji and Rarotonga.
“The reason I wanted to come back is because I’ve loved it and it’s not touristy like Fiji and Rarotonga. I’ve been around the Pacific but in this region Samoa is the untouched experience, there is not everywhere McDonalds and KFC scatted everywhere. People aren’t constantly approaching you, they come and say hey in a nice, curious way.”
The couple is staying now in the Tanoa Tusitala hotel in Apia, which is their favorite hotel.
They arrived last Thursday and are at the Teuila Festival for the week.
In terms of tourism development, they agree that Samoa is still in an early stage of its tourism development.
But Amanda says she likes it as it is authentic, simple and laid back.
“Why we come back to Tusitala is because you get the authentic feeling without feeling to much like a tourist,” John added.
Overall they like the kind of experience they get here while expressing the need for further training and development of hotel staff to meet tourists’ expectations.
“I think of what they have here currently when they can improve on the trainings then I think that would lift the travel experience significantly.”
“Even when you set your suspense not so high it’s just the intention to manner details I think which very important,” John said.
Amanda added that communication with hotel staff didn’t seem to work as they faced the same issues with different staff members.
Nonetheless they praised the importance of maintaining the authenticity of Samoan hospitality, which made it feel like home for them.