Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati, has nothing but praise for the nine contestants vying for the McDonald’s Miss Samoa 2017 crown.
“To be a Miss Samoa contestant reflects your courage and pride in your country,” he said.
“You are patriots. And in my book, and if it was up to me, you are all winners.
“As a father and grandfather, I applaud your patriotism.
“Remember, you are not just representing your family, your father, your mother, your sisters, your brothers, cousins, aunties, uncles and your grandparents, like me, but most importantly, your country.”
To that end, the Minister called on the contestants to be original when they take the stage on pageant night.
“No pretense. Be yourself. Be you and be the Samoan Manamea and lady that you really are,” he elaborated.
“Whoever will win, a friendly reminder, you will shoulder the pride of our nation, worldwide.
“You will shoulder the high expectations of your country, in particular, the pride and reputation of a Tamaitai Samoa, or our Manamea.
“And I kid you not, our Samoan ladies can be very notorious when it comes to their identity as achievers, decision makers and as the pillar or foundation of families, societies and our country.”
To equip the contestants with what lies ahead after the McDonald’s Miss Samoa Pageant, Sala is mindful that the Miss Pacific Pageant in Fiji, is waiting.
To that end, the Minister touched on the crucial role of tourism to Samoa.
“By now you are well aware that tourism is the mainstay of our economy, contributing over $300 million tala a year in revenues.
“That represents food on the table for taxi drivers and their families, handicraft vendors, farmers selling the fruits of their hard labour to hotels, and a whole lot more,” said Sala.
“Tourism revenues also contribute to our foreign reserves, which our people can fall back on in case the world economy collapses -- government has the reserves to procure imports for sustainability.
“To date, our Foreign Reserves Fund is in the $600 million tala neighborhood, able to sustain our economy for six months.
“That’s a few reasons why tourism remains a government priority.”
And to sustain its investment in tourism, the Minister also guided the contestants to the multi-million tala investments by government.
“The new Faleolo Airport terminals, coupled with improvements to our airport runway to attract more flights, bigger aircrafts and more traffic at Faleolo Airport, is a huge undertaking by government to increase the number of tourists visiting Samoa,” said Sala.
“The Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) is on the ground 24-7, promoting Samoa as a tourism destination with our stakeholders and travel agencies overseas to improve and increase tourist numbers,” Sala continued. “To that end, as the next Miss Samoa, you will play a crucial role.”
As for the pageant, says the Tourism Minister: “You have the blessings of a father, a grandfather, a Minister of Tourism, and the entire country.”