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Increase in 2019 arrivals nets $433 million tala

There was a 10.2 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in Samoa in the first ten months of 2019, compared to the same period in the previous year, according to the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.).

A total of 136,992 visitor arrivals was recorded for January to October 2018 but that increased to 151,024 for the same period last year.

The increase in visitor arrivals last year has also translated to a 12.1 per cent increase in visitor earnings for the same period, growing from $386.4 million in 2018 to $433 million tala in 2019, the S.T.A. Newsletter has revealed.

The increase marks another record second six months period exceeding the previous high that was set the previous year.

Overall arrivals have increased by 10.2 per cent when compared to 2015 figures, growing annually by an average of 35 per cent over the last five years.

The S.T.A. Newsletter stated that Australia remains Samoa’s top performing market for the period to achieve the highest growth in absolute terms, increasing by 4,842‬ visitors to grow by 17.7 per cent over the corresponding period last year, increasing its overall market share to 21 per cent.

While American Samoa continues its rebound from last years’ numbers and grew by 11.8 per cent or 1,439‬ visitors. New Zealand and European numbers remained stagnant while the country’s USA market recorded what the S.T.A. Newsletter described as “a disappointing negative growth” of 4.2 per cent.

"Our Asian markets on the other hand performed well for the period with China recording solid growth of 21.6 per cent when compared to the same period in 2018."

Holiday Market dominated the period growing by 18.7 per cent, increasing its total share of visitors up to 38 per cent from 35 per cent in 2018. The growth in the holiday market is unusual but welcomed as usual for the first half of the year is dominated by Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) category, according to the S.T.A. Newsletter.

"Holiday growth, however, was at the expense of our VFR market which recorded negative growth of 6.3 per cent or a decrease of 3,767 VFR travelers which saw its overall market share drop to 37 per cent from 44 per cent in 2018."

And sports travellers grew by 4 per cent or 4,978 more visitors in absolute terms, thanks to the 2019 XVI Pacific Games that Samoa hosted in July last year, added the S.T.A. Newsletter.

The business and conference market achieved similar growth to the holiday market, growing by 39.4 per cent which was attributed to the additional meetings and conferences, held over the period apart from the normal church conferences.

"Visitor Earnings increased by 12.1 per cent to $433.0 million tala from $386.4 million tala for the same period in 2018,” the S.T.A. Newsletter stated.

"The increase is slightly more relative to the growth in overall visitor arrivals and this is largely attributed to the significant increase experienced in our Business market, as well as our Australian and Asian markets which have a higher average spend per visit.

"The increase in our Holiday and Business travellers has coincided with an increase in visitors utilising our accommodation products 54,292 to 58,207or an additional 3,915‬ visitors staying in paid accommodation for the period."

Though the Statistics International Arrival Statistics for the month of November revealed a decrease of 10.7 per cent over the previous month, there was an increase of 8.1 per cent over the corresponding month of November 2018. 

"Overall visitors numbered 11,907 for the month under review revealed a decrease of 18.1 per cent over the previous month and an increase of 3.7 per cent when compared to the corresponding month of November 2018," the S.T.A. Newsletter added. 

And air travel was the preferred mode of travel to Samoa, representing 93.3 per cent (16,666) of total arrivals. Out of that number, Samoa Airways leads the way in terms of arrival by carriers during the reference period with a 40.0 per cent share (7,149 passengers), followed by Air New Zealand with 27.4 per cent (4,894 passengers). 

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