Visitor offer helpful tips to improve overall Samoan experience
Drinking a chilled Corona on a hot Thursday noon after a pool session at the Taumeasina Island Resort was couple Larry Coombes and Francie Perry from Auckland, New Zealand.
Usually they drink local beer whenever they travel to different countries, but it just so happens that they were influenced by some Australians who were drinking Corona at the resort.
The couple have been in Samoa for five days and have stayed at the resort, allowing them to travel to Apia often, snorkel, swim, and visit the Marine park.
Speaking on the service provided by the staff of the resort, Francie said it's the little things that the staff are forgetting when it comes to serving the visitors.
"The service provided by the people is only average. Just little things like for example, we have to ask for them to bring the coffee, and some are walking around with coffee. We find there’s no milk on the table then they will have to go and get milk," Larry said, adding that two days he went for breakfast, he has had to ask for plates because they have ran out of plates.
"More importantly that to me when you arrive half way during breakfast, there is nowhere to sit because there’s nowhere set, everybody has eaten and all the dishes are left there," Francie added.
"This is not to be seen as criticism; I am seeing it in a positive way because your country wants to survive on tourism. We are having a great time, don’t get me wrong, but if you want a positive comment on what can be slightly better and perhaps will get you more tourist.
"We are not typical because we don’t really care, but we only making comments because if you want to attract more international tourists then it’s the little things that matter to. The people are friendly and all, but it’s those little things that tourists look for," she said.
The Dear Tourist team learned that Larry has been to Samoa before in the mid-70s with his brother, who is a professional golfer, for the Samoa Open.
"Back then we had golf tournaments all around the Pacific and my brother was a professional and we came to play in the Samoa Open. We were here for about four-five days and I remember we stayed at Aggie Greys, and then we had one night at the newly-built Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. That hotel just finished when we arrived here.
"The changes have been enormous in terms of development. Because I remember when I first came, Samoa was just really under developed. Now coming in from the airport- the brand new airport, and just all the newer buildings and hotels, but the people are still the same," Ross said.
Nellie, on the other hand, is visiting Samoa for the first time, and she has enjoyed her time in the island with the relaxing and laid back atmosphere.
They hardly do organised tours when they travel and today they plan to get a rental car and visit the south side of Upolu - Lalomanu Beach, and the To Sua Ocean Trench, staying in an open fale.
"We are experienced snorkelers. I have been snorkeling for about 20 years. And we do a lot of travelling; we go to different parts of the world. We’ve snorkeled in the red sea, all around the Mediterranean, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, and Pacific Islands too," Larry said.
"We have been to New Caledonia, Fiji, Rarotonga, Vanuatu, Tahiti, American Samoa. Raro has a bit more tourism than what we can see here," Francie added.
"For me, what we tend to do is we do a big holiday overseas like North America, South America, Europe etc., and any time we come to the islands it’s just for a week holiday."
Larry views the Pacific Island all alike, warm people, lovely weather and laid back, whereas Francie is a bit more mindful of the different cultures of the Pacific Islanders.
The couple agreed the upcoming Pacific Games is a good marketing strategy for Samoa because more people would come and appreciate the beauty of the island and what it has to offer, however more marketing is needed.
Speaking of developing Samoa's tourism industry, Nellie said: "Charm for me is good, you’re thinking of your economy whereas I am thinking of myself. To me, this is a much holiday then in Fiji. We are sitting in a beautiful room, looking out, and everything is right here.It’s a lot of compromises. It’s a hard call because tourism is important for the country economy wise."
Larry said people who visit the Pacific Islands are keen for good beaches, great weather, and a range of activities – snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.
"I still play golf two-five times a week. Whenever we go for a big holiday overseas, and I’m with Francine, I never do golfing because I want to spend time with her and give her a great holiday," he added.
"I have played golfed all my life, I did some marathon, now I do a lot of wind surfing, and I do boxing. I am athletic. But I was doing business in New Zealand as an importer and distributor of motor vehicles."
The couple dated for three years when they were in their teenage years but they went their separate ways and got married. Fifteen years later, their paths crossed and have been together since.
"It's probably fair to say that if we ended up marrying then, we might end up divorcing, so it’s better this way," Ross said.
Ross has two sons from his previous marriage and Francine a daughter, and five granddaughters.
They leave on Monday night but assured the Dear Tourist team of two things - their return, and they will definitely drink the local Taula and Vailima beer before they depart the country, and they have another four days to do that.