Members of an outfit called the Samoa Tourism Industry Alliance (S.T.I.A.) gathered for their second meeting at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia yesterday.
The group looks at ways to further develop the tourism sector in Samoa. The membership includes representatives from the private sector and the government. The Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) acts as the group’s secretariat.
Chairperson, Adele Kruse, believes the initiative is crucial for the development of tourism in Samoa.
“S.T.I.A. is an organization or a gathering of people to come together to work on building tourism in Samoa,” she said. “This initiative was the brainchild of our former Minister for tourism and also the board S.T.A.; the objective is to bring the players together in tourism; those who are registered with an interest in tourism.
“We gather so that we can put together ideas and objectives so that we can build our tourism.”
The group was brought together four years ago and now pushes to meet every few months.
“S.T.I.A. actually started in 2012 and from there we had endeavored to have a meeting every quarter,” Ms. Kruse said.
“When we established this in 2012 there was a hurricane which pushed things back but since then we have become stronger and hosted more meetings.
“So this is the second meeting this year, the other one would have been in the first quarter of this year however we had our tourism exchange at that time as well as our tourism forum.”
According to Ms. Kruse, the members of the Alliance began with registered members within tourism but that changed because tourism was too big a picture for a few.
“We needed to look at this from a holistic approach, we need the entire nation to back us up; from town to the villages we all need to understand what we need to do in order to keep our visitors happy,” she said.
“Whilst we started out with those who are registered with a commercial interest in tourism, we are also interested with those who augmented the business in tourism.
“We are open to looking at whoever is interested to join this association or gathering of interested persons as long as they too can build the way forward.” With S.T.A. on board, it creates a form of partnership between the private and government sector because both are needed to build tourism to its desired capacity.
“S.T.A. is the secretariat and as the leading tourism body to government it is very important that we get S.T.A. involved in what we’re doing,” Ms. Kruse said.
“We in the private sector cannot work in a silo, we need to communicate to the government what we think should be done to assist with the building of tourism.
“It is a partnership; the reason why we asked S.T.A. to be the secretariat is to ensure that everything we discuss in the private sector is noted and presented to the government’s consideration.”
According to Ms. Kruse, there have been many positive outcomes ever since S.T.I.A.’s launch and they will continue to work towards a better tourism approach for Samoa.
“Samoa is really at a wonderful position right now because we are looking at building Samoa’s tourism in terms of accessibility,” she said.
“We have been working hard with the government to look at aviation policies as well as the access into Samoa so we can have more traffic into Samoa in terms of arrivals.
“We have increased the number of rooms in Samoa because of what government has done to improve a way for investors to invest in Samoa.
“There are many things in as far as working together with various agencies and government to ensure that our products are of a quality nature as well as working with those that can help us market our properties. “This is so we can not only have quality products and services but to also communicate this to the outside world.”