The eyes of the world were on Samoa this week.
It happened as the heart of the Pacific welcomed the world during the 2016 Samoa Tourism Exchange held over the past two days in Apia.
Organised by the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A), the Exchange attracted trade and media representatives from Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Fiji, China, South Korea, Canada, USA, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
They met with local operators for product updates, selling tips and to lean more about the properties and what is available in Samoa.
Natascha Lund-Jensen, of the Switzerland-based travel agency, “Dreamtime Travel,” was among the agents.
“From our client’s point of view, visiting Samoa makes more sense as a sort of additional travel destination when travelling other countries in the South Pacific, like Australia or New Zealand, simply because of the journey’s length,” she said.
“For us, it is challenging to convince clients of the fact that the South Pacific area offers more to them than the sort of cliché destinations of Fiji and Cook Islands.”
Ms. Lund-Jensen told the Samoa Observer the Exhibition was extremely useful.
“With the opportunity to make contact with the local resorts here on the islands, this might get easier for us in the future,” he said.
One of the advantages Samoa has as a tourism destination is that it is not fully developed and exploited by mass businesses to the point where the natural beauty of the destination is taken away.
German travel agent, Andreas Combrink, said it’s good that there is only one chain that is in Samoa, which is Starwood.
“Our clients are in most cases widely travelled people with a special interest for exploring the world. They do not feel comfortable in mass tourism.”
Combrink said the accommodation types Samoa has to offer works well for their clients.
“From what I’ve seen so far in this exhibition, I can tell that my impression of the local operators is a largely positive one.”
But the tourism industry also seems to regard Samoa as a place appropriate for special occasions, as Jina Kim, a travel agent from South Korea explained.
“Our main target for Samoa is to offer specialized honeymoon travels for our clients, mostly because of the picturesque environment”.
The untouched nature Samoa has to offer also impressed Elizabeth Ellis, an employee for “Blue Marble Private” from London.
“Samoa is obviously much less developed than Fiji, but this can be a good thing,” she said.
She also highlighted the positive welcome she experienced from the local operators at the exhibition.
“They seem to be very willing to share their way of life and this is, especially concerning tourism, a very positive way to represent the culture of a country.”