Road needs to be fixed, says tourist
Samoa needs to get "its act together" and fix the roads for the upcoming Pacific Games.
So says Ross Musumec, 68, a tourist from Sydney, Australia, who is visiting the island for the first time with his wife, Nellie, and his sister-in-law.
Ross said the Games is a good marketing strategy for Samoa, but Samoa needs to fix the road from Apia to Faleolo International Airport before the Pacific Games.
"You guys have got to get your act together, those roads are disgusting. Worse than Fiji. The road from here to the Airport is disgusting," he said to the Dear Tourist team during an interview at the Taumeasina Island Resort yesterday.
"It shouldn’t take that long to travel but because of all those road works, and if you guys are to get ready for the Games, then you want to hurry up. Because that will be one of your biggest downfall as people will be travelling because people got to move, and also if you get tourists out here too then you have to fix the road.
"In 2000, when we had the Olympics in Sydney, my goodness we couldn’t move. The traffic was bad and that’s when everything was organised there, they tried to get everything organized there but everything just shuts down. There were 200,000 people just going to one place. Even the buses. As long as you get the roads fixed up you should be alright. The accommodation we saw where the athletes will be staying looks alright."
The couple, of Italian descent, are in Samoa for a week and leave on Saturday morning. They said Samoa needs to look into providing a variety of gluten-free products for tourists, like Ross, who travel into the country.
“So far they haven’t got me anything that I can eat here like gluten-free foods,” Ross, who is also lactose intolerant, said referring to the staff of Taumeasina Island Resort.
“There are a lot of people like me too who eat gluten free, lucky they have soy milk in there.”
Nellie added: “But he makes do, but he can’t eat the bread, he can’t have the pastor, but there’s enough food for him to eat. They’ve tried their best, he hasn’t starved.
“Back in Sydney there are a lot of varieties and inside the cruise ships too. Back in Australia, we are finding a lot of children because of the way they are brought up, are intolerant to certain foods like peanuts.
“We went to the supermarket here to find more gluten free products, nothing, there wasn’t really anything. Maybe Samoa can look into that in the future to expand their tourism industry.”
It has been a busy week for the couple, who have been married 45 years, visiting the beaches, Piula Cave Pools, waterfalls, Tosua Ocean Trench, and also a tour of the south of Savaii where they got to see the blowholes.
"We also went to another waterfall there and a got to see how the tapa was made. We had lunch there. We did the tours with the Samoa Scenic Tours from there, which was good. In the evening we returned, we had Italian night here, and the food was nice because we’re Italians, and had a lovely ladies night," Nellie said.
The couple was supposed to visit Samoa years ago with their daughter, who died at the age of 39, but never made it with her.
"So my wife’s sister found this trip to come here, and I told her straight away book it, let’s do it, and that’s why we’re here," Ross said.
"Today, we would like to go to Aggie Grey’s and have a look there because that’s where my daughter stayed, so I am going to have a look there. And in the night we will be here because they are having a cultural night, and that’s going to be a nice ending."
They came to know about Samoa through the husband of their daughter's friend, who is Samoan, and they haven't regretted coming to the island, despite the high humidity, which was uncomfortable most times for them.
"Samoa is beautiful, the garden, the plants are very colourful, especially out there in Savaii that is magic. Some of the gardens over there as you drive by, and some of the roads over there are much better than here, everything is very nice and beautiful," Nellie said.
Ross added: "The taxi drivers out there, the guys that have taken us out, they are all great people, gentlemen, and you can’t fault them. They are just really good people. That part of the tour, you can’t do that in another country, say in Suva, I wouldn’t get a taxi there. We got into one and that was enough. Taxis in Suva we would condemn them in Australia. They wouldn’t be allowed on the road. The taxis here are clean, comfortable and have air-conditioning, and they are all brand new.
"We are wary when we out of the resorts in Suva, whereas here in Apia, we feel safer."
The couple, however, have different opinion on developing Samoa to attract more tourists into the country, with Ross agreeing to developments, and Nellie saying that their needs to be a balance in the development, bearing in mind that Samoa doesn't become too touristy.
They commended the service at Taumeasina Island Resort, but said the staff need to "get their act together".
"I do like it. This resort here is very good, but once they (staff) get their act together because some of them you say one thing, and they don’t understand you. Maybe a few more years, give them more experience and it should be good. But right now, it’s pretty very hard.
Nellie, who is a retired teacher, having taught at Our Lady Queen of Peace for 45 years, and Larry, a retired butcher, were basically friends back in Sicily, Italy, when they were young as their parents knew each other.
Ross moved to Australia with his parents when he turned six, and Nellie with her parents when she turned five.
"It’s terrible isn’t it. I have known him all my life," Nellie said laughing.
"But it wasn’t arranged. Her father hated me so it was alright. By the time I grew up I was too much of an Australian," Ross added laughing.
The couple visited Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, and attended the Fiafia night on Thursday, but before that it was snorkelling for Ross.
They look forward to returning to the islands in the future.