Letter from a friend: ‘Everyone is hurting and they have a story to tell’

Here’s a Monday thought. 

Tourism in Samoa – contrary to what the government will have you believe - is a stagnant swamp. It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere in a hurry. There is no doubt that the industry is suffering.  Some of them are wilting and dying from the government’s inertia. 

Now yesterday, I received a letter from a friend. His name shall remain unknown for now and contents of his letter have been edited. 

But I thought it would be good idea to share it with you to highlight the problem and for us to see where we are. 

The letter reads: “I had the opportunity to meet an official from Rarotonga. He was telling me the Cooks are really pumping – Jetstar are running three services a week from Auckland now.

Bit with all that - there is still not enough capacity –flights are full and Jetstar are now looking at a direct Sydney Service this year as well.

All Jetstar services are Wide Body – Air Bus or Dreamliners. Flight times of departures and arrivals are similar to ours – the tourists don’t seem to mind he says.

The quiet off season has shrunk now to about six weeks – Feb to early March.

He says Mid March they go up to the 80s again all the way through pretty much.

December was the best December for tourists in many years.

They have a LA  Raro – LA – Raro Air New Zealand Service weekly  - this is subsidized (8 million NZD per year ) however the subsidy is based on loadings and the subsidy has not reached $5million for the last couple of years because of good loadings.

(That North America and Europe market!  The one we lost a few years ago – thanks to Air New Zealand axing the AKL – APW – LAX service on Mondays – despite the subsidy we also paid along with Tonga.)

In Raro Accommodation / occupancy is so buoyant that new developments are being planned – and being constructed.

BNB Accommodation is also popular due to high Hotel Occupancy.

Even my friend is doing a 12 Unit property – He said his opening rates will be 350/390 NZD per night. He said that is the average rate – Good Beach places are doing rates of 650 / 750 NZD per night and with high occupancy.

Cooks are even talking with Singapore Airlines! They just signed an agreement.”

Now that’s what’s happening in the Cook Islands.

And then he draws his attention to Samoa.

“Where in the hell are we?” he wrote. “Cook Islands Tourism still have only 14 people employed at Cook Islands Tourism in Raro. What are we doing to attract more airlines? 

We hear all the talk but who are the airlines and who are the execs of the airlines that “Samoa” has been talking to?

Who are the people in Samoa that are meant to be vigorously looking at new airline opportunities?

All the major properties in Samoa including the south coast properties are hurting badly by comparison to our neighbours - in Fiji and the Cook Islands.

In the meantime we are empty and we are suffering. 

It has been said many times about the chicken or the egg  - New Accommodation or New Airline. Well we have the accommodation now – The operators of these magnificent properties are apparently letting their thoughts be known but it’s falling on deaf ears.

Again – where is the Urgency?

The entire landscape changes when we have planeloads of visitors arriving.

So many benefit – apart from the obvious Hotels and Rental Car operators and Tour Operators.

Of course the restaurants and shops – and the increase in employment that would happen. Young people in jobs – if we were pumping with tourists we would put at least 4/5 more young people on the payroll – and we all know how that benefits.

My friend, everyone in the tourism industry in Samoa today has a story to tell. And they are hurting. What is the government doing about it? 

I thought the Prime Minister said that the tourism is going to be the mainstay of the economy?

If that’s the case, we should be worried. It’s just not happening and there doesn’t seem to be any urgency from the relevant authorities to change anything.”

Well is someone listening? 

We hope so. 

Have a great week Samoa, God bless!

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