S.T.A. says $80,000 Opetaia sponsorship will pay dividends

The Samoa Tourism Authority says it expects its $80,000 sponsorship of Samoan-Australian cruiserweight boxing star, Jai Opetaia, to pay dividends as it targets the growing Australian tourism market. 

The S.T.A.'s Chief Executive Officer, Fa'amatuainu Lenatai Suifua, confirmed the S.T.A. is currently sponsoring the current World Boxing Organisation Asia-Pacific cruiserweight champion, for a period of three months.  

Sydney-born and Australian-based Opetaia will fight 29-year-old professional Australian boxer Mark Falanaga the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia later this month on November 16. 

"So the whole package covers his coming to Samoa for the two weeks before the fight to participate in our promotions and advertisements in hotels he stays in," he said.

"As well as the assistance he gives for our local boxer organisations, and that's the first two weeks."

He revealed that S.T.A. is working with the business community "so we're sharing the cost with them."

Opetaia recently sparred with Samoan boxers while on a visit to the island in preparation for his fight and in August held a boxing clinic  for a group of children from Falease'ela during a brief trip here in August. 

Fa'amatuainu said the sponsorship continues whether or not he wins the upcoming bout. 

"After the fight, the following two weeks, he will return to do more promotional work and work on advertisements with our team," he said.

Fa'amatuainu said the willingness for the sponsorship comes after seeing the promotion Samoa received from his last fight in July against Nikolas Charalampous.

"We went to this and during the fight we saw a great interest in Samoa from Sydney," he said.

"Not only in Sydney but also across Australia for this up and coming fighter, and we were actually given a package, which involved free advertisement on FOX.

"This is something very expensive for us."

The package plus website promotions and fight advertisements in Australia is expenditure the S.T.A. says will deliver returns. 

"Samoa was given the opportunity to do advertise during pre-fight and also whenever the fight is on break," he said.

"Not only will the ring be all 'Beautiful Samoa' but also every time there is a break, promotional videos of Samoa and hotels will be played."

Australia is normally Samoa's second-biggest tourism market but S.T.A. figures for the first half of 2019 showed Australia is now the country's top-performing market compared to the same period last year. 

Over 4200 more Australians came to Samoa compared to the first six months of last year, or a proportional increase from 18 per cent to 22 per cent. 

Fa'amatuainu said the S.T.A. has secured an advantage of advertising in Australia includes working together with Samoa Airways, tour operators and hotels, offering cheaper packages to Australian tourists.

Opetaia's proposal was screened by the S.T.A. board and Minister to determine cost and ensure the return on investment, he said.

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