The big question now

Re: Hotel owner denies report of sale 

Smaller hotels and budget operators such as beach fales have been suffering declining occupancy since the 2016 season, despite increased visitors of more than 7% year on year. 

What seems to have happened is the mix of visitors has changed with the big Apia hotels getting the lions share of these increased arrivals, while the lower end of the market are subjectively reporting they are down 20% or more.

The powers that be are busy patting themselves on the back for this increased tourism and for filling the pockets of the overseas interests that own the big hotels, while the bulk of the tourism operators, predominantly locals that employ lots of family and others are doing it tough. 

Debt servicing after rebuilding following natural disasters, where the authorities were encouraging people to expand on a “if you build it they will come” promise, has become a significant issue for many operators, especially in Upolu.

This is not new information to any of the groups representing the tourism industry, as these issues have been openly discussed at many of the monthly and annual meetings over the past couple of years.

Some say that a rising tide lifts all, but in this case we witness a healthy and steadily rising tide of visitors to Samoa, but some are being swamped by the waves. 

Ironically, many of these smaller operators are also facing additional expense because of sea level issues causing excessive erosion as if they don’t have enough on their plate.

The big question is what is being done to really grow all areas of tourism and to alleviate the pain being endured? 

Not much I guess, as you hear arguments that the increase in higher end tourism benifitrs all Samoans by increasing the average spending when here. 

It may be the case but as these statistics are no longer reported, who knows?

 

S.P.

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