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Visitor peak season continues for Samoa

The peak season for visitors to Samoa is usually from May to October, but the numbers keep on increasing, according to the Samoa Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer, Fa'amatuainu Lenatai Suifua.

So far, for this quarter, there is almost a 15 per cent increase in visitor numbers, he said.

"Up to now, we are still peak season. This was not supposed to be peak season but it's still full of tourists."

He attributed part of the increase to the establishment of direct route flights from Samoa's two top markets in New Zealand and Australia, and comes courtesy of the national airline Samoa Airways.

This enables the S.T.A. to create affordable packages for visitors, added Fa'amatuainu.

"Right now, we have emerging markets in Asia and China and aside from the lack of direct flights, we are working to capture these visitors in New Zealand and Australia."

Fa'amatuainu also said they are working together with hotels to have local rates, for visiting friends and relatives (V.F.R.) whom they noticed increased due to the spike in paid accommodations over the years.

According to S.T.A. statistics, V.F.R. numbers increased by 47 per cent in the October-December period from 2017 to 2018. 

Tourism earnings for that same period also increased by 12 per cent from $131,359,128 in 2017 to $147,306,131 in 2018.

Accessibility is the number one challenge for Samoa in the far away markets, with the C.E.O. saying: "We can do as much in those countries, but if we don't have the [resources] to bring the people, here then, that's another issues."

"That's why most of our resources go into Australia and New Zealand, because we have that direct route."

In a bid to boost visitor numbers from far away markets including Europe, the S.T.A. is using sport stars with Samoan heritage, who are given promotional packages for them to advertise Samoa.

In the first half of this year, Samoa had also seen a large growth in visitor numbers with the increase in February and April. This has a combined average growth rate of 27.6 per cent.

So far, Australia is Samoa's fastest-growing visitor market with an increase of 4227 visitors or a 32 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year. Australia's overall market share increased from 18 per cent to 22 per cent.

The New Zealand and European markets remained slow while the United States market also dropped by 12.7 per cent in the first six months.

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