Meet Diane and Mark from Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.
They like to refer to themselves as “tourists who don’t like to be tourists”.
Sounded confusing at first when they told Dear Tourist how they liked to describe their wanderlust, but after a little chit chat at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel yesterday, we learned that they coined this phrase from their desire to feel and live for the moment – something different from ordinary tours.
And rightly so, because in their last holiday, the couple walked 900km for 33 days from France to Spain, stopping over for rest at hotels they came across at night.
“Because Mark has a shoulder pain, we decided to hire a car and drive around Samoa, if not we would have walked too,” Diane said.
“We don’t like to do the tours and we meet a lot of people when we are adventurous. We’re not scared of people; we like to talk with them,” she added.
“We don’t want to make any plans, we would rather drive and when we get tired we just stop and check into a hotel,” Mark added.
Apparently, the couple love spontaneous travels and nothing is ever in their bucket list when they visit places and for Samoa, their four-day visit has been nothing more than adventurous.
“Our visit is unplanned and we’re responding to cheap flights,” Mark said.
“The Samoan people are friendly without a question, the prices of the hotels are reasonably good, and they’re not cheap too.”
Mark also commented on the local dishes saying that Samoan food is “amazing”.
“We had a fantastic buffet dinner at the Sheraton near the airport and the variety of food and the quality of food is very good,” he said.
“The road side stalls are very good and if people are adventurous enough to hire car, then they should have no fear of stopping on the roadside and buying pineapple, banana and fruits of any sort because it is really part of the experience.”
For Diane, her memorable experience would have to be swimming in the sea.
“Swimming in the sea is the best thing I’ve done because the temperature is so lovely.”
However, the couple said they encountered some problems during their visit in the island.
“We’re very connected to the internet and we see that from travelling around the resorts and hotels we find that they are 20-25 percent full, very low occupancy and when we look online, the price of the hotels are NZ$150 (T$261) but when we drive in and ask the price, they would quote twice the amount and we tell them that is more than the internet and they tell us oh yes the internet is cheaper and we tend to leave.
“And in my opinion that is a lost opportunity for Samoa tourism.
“I think hoteliers should think of inviting in the tourists then taking the dollar as opposed to taking the dollar and tourists leave. Change their approach, and if there is low occupancy then strike a deal with the tourists,” Mark added.
Comparing Samoa to other tourist destinations in the Pacific, the couple said they would return to Samoa anytime.
“We feel very safe. We don’t get hassled and we love it here because it is more relaxing,” Diane said.