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Kicking goals for the tourism industry with Manu Samoa

The folks at the Samoa Meteorology Services are confident that it will be a fine day today, the perfect recipe for victory over a Tongan rugby union side.

There is a lot of expectations riding on this match and the Manu Samoa team and its coach Steve Jackson, especially after recording just five wins in the last three years, three of them against what the rugby world call minnows in Germany and Spain. 

Their opponents the Ikale Tahi have played 16 tests since the last World Cup and won seven, a disjointed run but a somewhat better record than Manu.

Today’s match is also Jackson’s first on home soil since his appointment in September last year, his performance as coach will come under the radar from the moment the referee blows the whistle at 3.00pm to signal kick off.

Samoa’s road to success in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan in September this year could very well depend on how the team performs against Tonga at the Apia Park Stadium this afternoon.

Anything is possible on the field today, especially coming a week after the conclusion of the hugely successful 2019 XVI Pacific Games, where Samoa created its own history by coming third in the overall medal tally. 

With the support of a vocal and passionate crowd at Apia Park today, nothing should stop the Manu from creating their own slice of history. Building that foundation to launch a serious assault on the 2019 Rugby World Cup and increasing its prospects in the tournament can start in earnest today.

We cannot help but go back to the success of the recently concluded Pacific Games, and acknowledge how ordinary Samoan athletes rose to the occasion for their country. The potential to replicate Samoa’s success in the rugby union showpiece the Pacific Nations Cup is always there, but it is up to the players to take the game to the next level to claim victory.

And with the Rugby World Cup a month and 23 days away from kickoff, we can already think of the marketing potential of Samoa and its tourism market, especially with a global television audience footprint that is in the millions.

In fact, statistics from the last Rugby World Cup showed that there was an estimated audience of 120 million for the final and a record TV audience of 25 million in Japan to watch the match against Samoa. 

The Manu is a globally recognised rugby brand and it is time stakeholders in Samoa’s tourism industry capitalise on that opportunity. Has Samoa Tourism (STA) ever thought about getting their website address printed on the jerseys worn by Manu players in this year’s Rugby World Cup? Imagine millions of TV viewers from around the world, who get to see flashes of the STA website address on players’ jerseys, opening the door to the marketing of Samoa as a tourism destination.

Imagine the exposure that the Manu 7s team could have given to the local tourism sector through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, where they play in Dubai, Cape Town, Hamilton, Sydney, Las Vegas, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Paris. 

Any form of tourism marketing of Samoa on the global stage would be most welcome, especially by local hoteliers who are on the verge of losing their businesses to banks and financial institutions, following their failure to pay back millions of tala in loans due to low occupancy rates brought on by a downturn in the tourism sector.

With the Samoa Government continuing to invest millions in taxpayer funding into the operations of the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU), it is time for the powers-that-be to get a return on the people’s investment in that organisation. Using the success of the Manu, especially at the Sevens level through the HSBC World Rugby Series, to market the country’s tourism potential could reap long-term rewards.

But first things first. Let’s get out there and win that match against Tonga today. We believe the players and the coach have self belief, in restoring the glory days of that famous blue jumper. The fans are behind you and will be with you all the way.

Have a lovely Saturday Samoa and God bless. 

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