A special celebration was held yesterday at the Martin Hautus Institute of Learning Samoa (M.H.I.L.S.) at Malololelei.
The occasion was the commemoration of the International World Tourism Day, the first time the event has been marked in Samoa.
Guided by the theme-“Tourism for all: Promoting Universal Accessibility,” the celebration began with a special message from the Secretary-General of the United Nation World Tourism Organisation, Taleb Rifai
“Tourism has experienced a revolution in the past 50 years,” he said.
“In 1950 there were 25 million international tourists; today there are around 1.2 billion people travelling the world. Travelling has become a huge part of many lives."
“When travelling, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Often our perception of the world changes as we see more of it. However, we must not forget that for many, travelling can be quite a difficult process."
“15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some form of disability. That is 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privilege of knowing other cultures, experience nature at its fullest and experience the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights."
“Accessibility for all should be at the center of tourism policies and business strategies not only as a human right, but also as a great market opportunity."
“With the world’s population ageing, all of us will benefit sooner or later from universal accessibility in tourism."
“As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer."
“We thus urge all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, to promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels.”
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, also spoke about the importance of the day.
“Today, as we celebrate such a momentous occasion, with the rest of the world, we encourage the tourism sector and all others to make sure that people with disabilities, senior citizens and families travelling with small children, and sooner or later all citizens will appreciate the advantage of universal accessibility."
“Tourism is a powerful industry in Samoa. In Samoa, we earn close to $400 million tala every year from tourism. We have invested in many other areas, but tourism is still at the top of the list in terms of priorities."
“And this is why it is so important to have this institution to help train our people who will work at the tourism industry of this country.”