The Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A) welcomed their new Minister, Lautafi Fio Purcell, and his Associate, Tuifa’asisina Misa Lisati, during an ava ceremony yesterday.
The welcome marked the changing of the guard at S.T.A where Lautafi has taken over the portfolio previously held by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
And he means business.
“Let us not rest on our laurels,” he said. “Yes we have improved but there is always room for betterment.”
In addressing the gathering yesterday, Lautafi said he is excited about the appointment as he has always wanted to be involved in the development of tourism.
“When the Prime Minister appointed me to become the Minister of Tourism I was really happy inside,” he said. “Maybe some of the employees within the Ministry are not happy with me becoming the Minister of Samoa Tourism but I am not worried.
“I have been appointed by the P.M to work and build up the ministry so if people are not happy, then I am not worried. This is not the first time he has appointed me to look after a tough ministry.
“He appointed me to develop a new ministry and so at this time that ministry is up and running hundred miles per hour.”
Lautafi said challenges and barriers are not new to him.
“The only thing I said to the Prime Minister is that “you just bowl and I’ll bat” so for the next five years I’ll be leading our ministry.”
Passion is very important to Lautafi. “When I was young, I was a lucky person. I grew up in an environment that even today has historical sites all around like the Pulemelei Mound and the Atua'au at Vailoa Palauli.
“One day, my father said to me Selafi, there will come a day when white people will come and swim in this river (Atua'au) but at that time I thought to myself why would white people want to come and swim here when there are a lot of nice rivers where they are from?”
With Atua'au waterfall becoming one of the most popular places in Savai’i, Lautafi said his old man saw something he didn’t.
Looking ahead, the new Minister knows that the road is not easy.
“The challenge for me for the next five years, is how will we go forward with this development,” he said. “I believe we still haven’t reached the standard that we are supposed to be in the tourism industry.
“We should be thinking of different ways so that we can realise the potential of Samoa as a destination not only for tourists to visit for just days but actually stay in Samoa for a longer period and spend money in Samoa. That’s what we want.”