The government’s efforts to promote Samoa as a tourism destination has been dealt a major blow with Survivor Australia pulling the plug on a third season of filming in Samoa.
Instead, they have opted to film the next season in Fiji.
The Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed the decision yesterday but disputed reports that Survivor's exit is over the government’s failure to pay tax rebate “worth millions of tala.”
“It is their decision and although we offered to increase the rebate to 50 percent they still opted for Fiji,” said Tialavea.
“Just to be clear, we don’t have a standard contract with the Survivor crew where Samoa is the only destination for filming.
“Our contract is done on a yearly basis when they come for their filming which has expired.
“But there is no third year contract because they did not want to film the third season here. It’s up to them, what they want to do.”
The only obligation there is for the Samoa Government is to pay the rebate of 30 percent of the total funds they spend in Samoa.
“The last time they filmed here, their expenses amounted to $11 million and under the law we are obligated to pay back $3 million and we did.
“I already signed the cheque.
“Their decision to film in Fiji is their prerogative, Fiji’s rebate is 45 percent and so we proposed an increase to 50 percent but that did not change anything.
“It’s fair enough, when you think about it from a business perspective.”
According to the Minister, this is a loss for Samoa.
“There will be no more global exposure carried by Survivor and also the money they spent here, on hotels, rental cars, the local employment, food but at the same time, whatever money they spent we pay them back through the 30 percent rebate.
“It’s good that Australia Survivor filmed two series here, so it’s good for us.”
The rebate law will be up for discussion when Parliament is in session, he added.
“As this law applies to any filming company that wants to film here, the same principle will apply however the percentage of the rebate is negotiable,” he said.
Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati opted not to comment on the matter noting the need to await the C.E.O., Papali’i Sonja Hunter.
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At the launching of the second season of survivor in May last year, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said in many ways, it was the perfect decision, with existing infrastructure that we could build on from previous seasons and having staff on the ground with solid experience to guarantee a smooth and efficient production.
“But despite having hosted such a global television phenomenon, we have managed to preserve the beauty and untouched nature of our surroundings which is testament to our commitment and love for our country and its pristine environment,” said Tuilaepa.
The film is being shot in top secret locations throughout Upolu and Savai’i.
It was not possible to get a comment from Survivor Australia yesterday.