The lack of direct flights between China and Samoa is a major obstacle for Chinese tourists who want to visit the island nation.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Samoa, Wang Xuefeng, said this yesterday when giving the keynote address to open the two-day China Ready seminar at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
Addressing tourism operators and representatives of both the private and public sectors, the diplomat said he was overwhelmed by the beauty of the country but the lack of a direct flight is the main obstacle.
“Samoa is a very attractive destination to Chinese tourists as well as tourists from many other countries in the world. However, the major obstacle for Chinese tourists to come to Samoa is the lack of direct flights."
“The signing of the Agreement on China-Samoa Aviation Transportation Service by the governments of our two countries has provided legal guarantee for the direct flights."
“While time is not yet mature to have the direct flights immediately, we may try to start with chartered flights. Since last year, there have been several Chinese business people coming to Samoa to explore the possibility of chartered flights. Even though, none of them have become reality yet, we look forward to the day when the first chartered flight arrives in Samoa,” he said.
Speaking to Samoa Observer, C.E.O. of the Samoa Tourism Authority, Papalii Sonja Hunter, echoed aspects of the Prime Minister’s speech saying Samoa will be ready to receive tourists from all markets if it becomes ‘China ready’.
Papalii said that it was encouraging to see a good turnout at the seminar, which showed that businesses were interested in having access to a market like China.
“It’s wonderful to see everyone,” she said. “It actually identifies that people want these seminars in order to learn about how they can tap into that market. They also want to know how those people in that market think as well as what they want and need.”
During the opening of the event, the Prime minister invited tourism industry players – who were present at the seminar – to accompany him to China for the World Economic Forum to be held next month.
Papalii said that this would be a great opportunity for the tourism industry to see their country’s leader in action.
“The Prime minister invited everybody in the private sector to go with him and I would really encourage them to go so they can see their working Prime minister in action. In addition, Marcus Lee will be able to introduce them to extraordinary business people in his networks of 11,000 Chinese enterprises.”
Another tourism-related conference in October under the umbrella of the Samoa Tourism Authority and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (S.P.T.O.) also offers opportunity for interaction and dialogue with local tourism operators.
Papalii said: “We also have another programme which will be brought around in October and that will be the S.P.T.O. meetings where we are actually bringing great speakers from all over the world to dialogue with our industry.”