Promoting Samoan culture and tourism

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou ,

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GIVING THE TOURISTS A TASTE OF CULTURE: Ioelu Siamani (white ula), 49, from the village of Siumu

GIVING THE TOURISTS A TASTE OF CULTURE: Ioelu Siamani (white ula), 49, from the village of Siumu (Photo: Ilia L. Likou)

Tourism is vital to Samoa’s economic prospects. And everyone has a role to play.

For Ioelu Siamani, from the village of Siumu, he believes the most important thing is how the Samoan culture and our ways are portrayed in the eyes of tourists.

Spotted yesterday with a group of tourists at the village of Vailele, Ioelu was giving the visitors a firsthand experience of the Samoan culture through a variety of demonstrations.

“We should put taking care of our tourist as our priority because our country gets a lot of money from them,” he told the Village Voice.

“My message to all the tour guides is that you are at the frontline of it all. Yes you can show them this and that but if they don’t understand what they are looking at then their trip won’t have an impact.”

Ioelu continued to explain the importance of giving the tourists an experience rather than just another class about Samoan culture.

“Another message I have for the people of Samoa is that the tourists aren’t coming here for schooling, they are on holiday,” he said.

“If you try and teach them our culture like a class then they will be bored. The target for tourism is enjoyment.”

“They want to learn something and enjoy their experience. If you are teaching about coconuts then try and teach them in a way that will grab their attention.

“As you can see with our tour programme we have here at Vailele, you will notice the very positive feedback and at the same time we are teaching about our country.”

Another important advice Ioelu shared was how we should show more of our unique Samoan joy.

“When it comes to tourists visiting villages the only thing that matters most is how you deliver the Samoan experience,” he said.

“When you show them something Samoan then you must do it in a very fun way. Don’t be a teacher where they just tell you this and that. You have to show them our culture.

“Our visitors are interested in our culture so we must try and keep that interest alive. We want them to see our culture as a culture of happiness and joy.

“Who wouldn’t want to visit Samoa if they don’t see that it’s a country full of joy?”

According to Ioelu, the better we deliver our culture, the more tourists would want to visit and revisit our shores.

“No matter how many five star hotels we put up, we won’t get anywhere if the service our people are giving is good,” he said.

“Tourists won’t come or return for five star hotels, they come for that Samoan experience. They would come back and ask for me because then know that I try and give the experience.”

Furthermore, Ioelu says that village visits are very important to tourism and that we should develop it more.

“Programmes like these village visits are the most important for us here in Samoa,” he said.

“There is no better selling product than our culture and where better to see the culture than the villages. We can have five star hotels like every other island in the Pacific but our culture and people are what makes us different.”

“We need to do things with Joy. We are a happy country. You will see it on the roads where no matter how many cultural activities (fa’alavelave) we have going on, we will still laugh and have joy.”

“Facial appearance is what matters most in Samoa.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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