A new hotel will soon take shape in Sogi.
Next month, Digicel Samoa, is expected to host a groundbreaking ceremony to kick-start their $40million tala hotel development.
The hotel will be located on S.I.F.A land, where the government parked all the cars and buses during the S.I.D.S Conference
This was confirmed by the Chairman of Digicel Samoa, Pepe Fiaailetoa Fruean.
To be called the Lava Hotel, Pepe told the Samoa Observer they are looking at 55 rooms.
The Planning and Urban Management Agency (P.U.M.A) division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) has already approved and issued the development consent for the construction to take shape.
“We’re really happy we are finalizing the development design with the architecture and the engineers,” Pepe told the Samoa Observer, adding that they are ironing out just the few final details.
“And we are well placed, we are moving forward and we would expect some positive news in October, 2017.”
Pepe said Digicel is excited to be able to help grow the Samoan tourism industry by adding 55 more rooms to what is already available.
“I suppose I would like the hotel to speak for itself. It’s a really exciting project,” he said.
“Our main business is obviously communications. We’ve invested so much in our core business as a result the company continues to do well at the end of the year.
“The government through its hotel development plans had this opportunity for businesses to invest in infrastructure and we saw the opportunity.
“We thought well, let’s take the opportunity further and recommit to Samoa in a different area in tourism, where we’ve never been to in Samoa.”
Pepe added that the Digicel Group is not new to the tourism business.
In the Caribbean for instance, the Digicel Group owns the Marriot Port-au-Prince Hotel.
Asked about the challenges currently faced by hoteliers in Samoa – including low occupancy rates - Pepe said there are a lot of challenges but there is also a lot of potential.
“There have been several studies, at least two studies, independent studies which seem to point to the fact that we need a lift and it’s basically, airlines,” he said.
“The government has recommitted to our Samoa Airways and that’s a positive development.
“It will take us a year to develop the hotel and by that time we would like to think that Samoa Air will be increasing flights and competing with the New Zealand and Australia route, opening new markets for us in Hawaii.
“Having an extra flight from Hawaii, is vital because we know that Northern American tourists is a very valuable one for Samoa.
“And when we lost that Air New Zealand flight that was flying from LA, New Zealand Tonga, we lost a significant contribution to our tourism.
“So now through these new partnerships, and alliances with Fiji Airways and Samoa Air, in my Lava hat, this would place Samoa in a much better situation.
“Not only for our hotel; but for other hotels as well.
“That is the positive thing, once the tourist comes and stay at one place, they are eating at the restaurant, they are going to the makeki, they are buying fresh fruits, they’re taking tours around Samoa, our people are benefiting and we just need more people spending money.”