There’s plenty of developments underway in Samoa as it looks to boost its tourism infrastructure, including new hotels and the redevelopment of Apia’s water- front—and a delegation of Kiwi wholesalers were among colleagues from around the world who were in Samoa this week to see what’s happening first-hand.
The Samoa Tourism Authority has designated 2016 as Visit Samoa Year in celebration of the country becoming a five-star destination’ with the opening of Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows, and the Taumeasina Island Resort. Preparations underway this year will also pave the way for the inaugural Samoa Tourism Excellence Awards.
“Tourism is the mainstay of our economy and we have selected to continue pioneering sustainable tourism, as we have stated in our tourism sector plan and vision that by 2019 Samoa will have a growing tourism sector,” says Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
Last year, Samoa enjoyed record arrivals with an overall growth rate of 5.4%, thanks largely to the All Blacks game in July and the Commonwealth Youth Games in Sep. Holiday visitors contributed most to the increase, now representing 37% of all visitors. New Zealand is the largest market and contributed 44% of visitor arrivals in 2015 to a total of 61,645— growth of 12% on 2014.
This week, STA is hosting the Samoa Tourism Exchange, which sees travel industry guests from around the world (including New Zealand) meet with exhibitors from across the industry. It kicked off with an opening ceremony on 12 April and ended at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Resort.
Aggie’s Hotel Opening
Starwood Hotel and Resorts is on track to open its new Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows next month. The 175- room, suite and bungalow property will sport five meeting rooms including two board rooms and a ballroom which can cater for up to 280 banquet-style.
Samoa has once again been named one of the world’s most ethical destinations by Ethical Traveler, which surveys the world’s developing nations and assesses their performance in areas of Social Welfare, Human Rights and Environmental Protection. Each year, Ethical Traveler releases its top 10 destinations, and Samoa has made the list for the third time this year. To make the cut, a destination must also offer ‘unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way’, says the Samoa Tourism Authority. Samoa received a perfect score in Social Welfare and Human Rights, and scored highly in Environ- mental Protection, with the country launching new solar plants in 2015 as it looks to provide 100% sustainable energy by 2017.
Starwood: Kiwi Demand Strong
Starwood is reporting strong growth from the Australasian market for its Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Resort as the group gets set to open the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows next month.
Starwood says its Samoa resort has been very successful since its opening as a Sheraton and has welcomed leisure travellers and incentive groups alike from the key Australia and New Zealand markets.
“We have successfully organised a few New Zealand incentive programs in 2015 and we are looking forward to the same level of interest with the Sheraton in Apia considering its meeting and banqueting facilities,” says Starwood.