Tourism numbers register solid growth
Ten years since the tsunami hit, tourism numbers have restored to a strong upward trajectory as holidaymakers to Samoa begin to edge out people visiting family members for the first half of the year.
Most of the damage from the 2009 disaster was concentrated on the south coast of Upolu, a popular holiday destination for tourists. In the year following the disaster visitor numbers slipped by 1.5 per cent, according to data provided by the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.).
Since 2009, a .2 per cent growth in tourism was recorded for 2010, but that number dropped to a negative 1.5 per cent in 2010.
In 2012, tourism numbers grew by 5.5 per cent but were again set back in 2013 when they contracted 7.7 per cent, as Samoa was recovering from the impact of Cyclone Evan in December 2012.
Since then, Samoa's tourism numbers have been growing steadily with tourism numbers registering growth of 9.5 per cent in 2018.
In the first half of 2019, Samoa has also seen a large growth in visitor numbers, the S.T.A. says.
According to the Samoa Tourism Authority Newsletter, the increase has largely been driven by growth across February and April with a combined average growth rate of 27.6 per cent.
So far, Australia is the country's fastest-growing market with an increase of 4227 visitors, or is a 32 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year. Australia's overall market share increases from 18 per cent to 22 per cent.
"The performance of the highlighted months made up for the slow growth recorded for the other four months resulting in overall growth of 8.4 per cent for the Jan-June period from 72,064 to 78,132 or an absolute increase of 6068 visitors over the 2018 period," the newsletter read.
"It also represents another record first six months period exceeding the previous high that was set last year.
"Overall arrivals have grown by 33% when compared to 2015 figures increasing annually by an average 5.6% over the past 5 years."
The New Zealand and European markets remained slow while the United States market also contracted by 12.7 per cent in the first six months.
The growing holidaymaker market is propelling the increase over the first six months of the year. The S.T.A. say this is "pleasing", considering that the dominant purpose for visitors to Samoa is usually visiting families and friends (V.F.R.).
"Holiday growth however was at the expense of our V.F.R. market which recorded negative growth of 10.9% or a decrease of 3,932 V.F.R. travellers, which saw its overall market also achieving similar growth to our holiday market growing by 31.2% or an additional 1,302 business travellers attributed to the many additional meetings and conferences held over the period apart from the normal church conferences," the S.T.A. said.
The increases in numbers are accompanied by growth in earnings by 9.8 per cent, from ST$206.2 million in the corresponding period in 2018 to ST$226.4 million.
"The increase is slightly more relative to the growth in overall visitor arrivals and this is largely attributed to the significant increase and growth experienced within our Australian and Asian market where the average spend per visitor is higher compared to the other markets," read the S.T.A. newsletter.
"The increase in our holiday and business travellers has coincided with an increase in visitors utilising our accommodation products increasing by 10 per cent from 25,918 to 28,553 when compared to 2018 period.
"This represents an additional 2,639 visitors staying in paid accommodation with all of the increase attributed to the Holiday and Business travellers."
The S.T.A. says it continues to increase its efforts on destination marketing within its main source markets in New Zealand and Australia.
"We are working towards strengthening our marketing campaigns within our key markets of New Zealand and Australia,” said the organisation's C.E.O., Faamatuainu Lenata’i Suifua.
"We still continue promotions with our other existing markets and emerging markets like China and North America, however, efforts need to increase for the two main source markets within the Pacific that are close by."