A participant of the 2016 Samoa Tourism Exchange, Carla Kindervater, from Germany has some friendly advice for the organisers of the event.
If they want to maximise the outcomes of the Exchange, the focus should be more about showing the participants Samoa – especially Savai’i – rather than more talks in a conference room in Apia.
Ms. Kindervater, of the “HM Touristik” Travel Agent in Germany, told the Samoa Observer the tight scheduling of visits to the sites was a problem for her.
Although she has enjoyed the Exchange, results-wise Ms. Kindervater experienced some difficulties in finding the right places to recommend to her clients.
According to her, the reason for that was not so much the rainy weather during the past couple of days or the country itself.
“Some things definitely should have been handled differently, simply to achieve the event’s main goal, that is, to outsell Samoa in a nice way to interested partners,” she said.
“During our exploration of Samoa so far, we spent plenty of time sitting in the bus instead of actually experiencing the country in the way we could have done.”
The location of accommodation for had also made the visit unpleasant.
“Our accommodations are placed on the other side of the island.
“To get to the exhibition here in Apia, we have to cross the island and afterwards out of some reason we have to cross it again only to have lunch and finally we have to get to the other side again in the evening for our night stop.”
She said strategically, this doesn’t make sense. She said she would like to spend more time experiencing Samoa as a destination rather than talking with people in air-conditioned room.
Ms. Kindervater also criticized the small amount of time she and her colleagues had to spend on Savai’i.
“We basically only had the time to take one photo out of the car window,” she said.
Overall, her impression Samoa is a positive one.
“It is an entirely beautiful country with a sense of hospitality that cannot often be found somewhere else,” she said.
According to her, the weak points in the country’s presentation did not make it easy to see much of the area.
Therefore “it might be hard to make clients from Europe tempting for Samoa, which is a sad thing, because it is a wonderful country.”
Samoa Tourism Authority reacted quickly to the complaints uttered by Ms. Kindervater: “We always have to keep in mind that specific markets come with their specific requirements”, Dwayne Bentley of Samoa Tourism Authority explained.
“As for the type of accommodation provided for our visitors, it has to be relevant for these different markets. Unfortunately, like in this case, this can result in a longer way to the venue.”
“And sometimes, out of logistical purposes, it might not be possible to get the right accommodation ready in time for our visitors, which was the reason for their rather short trip to Savai’i”, Mr Bentley told Samoa Observer.