"I'm not stepping down." But Tourism Chief says she is not reapplying

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 May 2019, 12:00AM

The Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Tourism Authority, Papali’i Sonja Hunter, has decided not to reapply for her job.

Papali'i has been at the helm of the country's tourism body for more than 10 years.

“It is more or less that I have not reapplied for the job," she told the Samoa Observer. 

"My contract finishes on 7 June (2019) and I have decided not to reapply. I’m running the contract until it finishes and I’m obligated to do that," she said.

Papali'i has been involved in the tourism industry since her days with the Samoa Visitors Bureau from 1994 until 2000.

She returned in 2007 at the Chief Executive Officer of what is now known as the Samoa Tourism Authority.

Asked why she decided not to reapply for her position, Papali’i said there was no particular reason. 

“Nothing really, if you look at our environment compared to ten years ago, it wasn’t as enabled and this is an enabled environment and Government has made it for us," she said. 

“Everyone is saying I’m stepping down, no I’m stepping up."

Tourism development in Samoa is now in the hands of the developers, with Papali’i saying the developers know their product and business better than anyone. 

As for her future plans after she exits S.T.A. in June,  she said she is keeping the details to herself for now. 

Having spent over a decade on the job, Papali’i acknowledged the S.T.A. staff and also acknowledged the support of local and international partners during her tenure in office. 

She also left a message for those in the tourism industry – be encouraged and think positive. 

Statistics on tourism indicates a rising trend of the number of visitors arriving in Samoa between 2014–2018. 

A total of 131,796 visitors was recorded for Samoa in 2014. But those figures have grown over the last four years with an additional 40,700 visitors visiting in 2018 to total 172, 496 visitors. Samoa was ranked third place in the Pacific in the number of visitor numbers in the last financial year. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 04 May 2019, 12:00AM

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