Tourism chief urges public to be hospitable to visitors

The Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), Papali'i Sonja Hunter, has appealed to the public to be hospitable to Chinese tourists and treat them like any other visitor. 

STA together with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) launched the China Pacific Tourism Year 2019 in Samoa tonight where more than 70 VIP guests from China are expected to attend.

Speaking during a press conference, Papali'i said preparations for the launching are well advanced and the tourism partnership with China can potentially help the region.

"Our staff is out there greeting and meeting as they (Chinese tourists) come in, dancing on the tarmac. We’ve asked the ladies and the villagers to please clean up and make us look hospitable, because if you look at Samoan hospitality, it’s the best," she said. 

"Because the kind of money that they bring in, it’s not just about the money but it helps our country, it helps our region."

When she was asked about what STA has done to ensure the safety of the visitors – taking into account public sentiments in recent months that has been critical of Asian investors – she said the tourism industry has not been affected. 

"I think it’s not about these people, with you saying that, I don’t know if it’s really really true.  We need to do a survey, but for us alone we're doing awareness programmes because we want our Chinese tourist as any other tourist to come here to be safe.  So it’s not really about the Chinese tourists, it’s all the tourists, [that needs] to be safe.

Papali'i said at the end of the day the ball is in the court of the Samoans: "But it’s really up to every single Samoan to ensure that we have a safe country, it’s not just STA, tourism is everybody’s business."

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