Market vendors lament cruise liners' cancellation

Vendors at the Savalalo market are lamenting the costs of the cruise ship Princess Emerald cancelling its visit to Samoa.

The vessel was due in Apia on February 15 but travel advisories issued by the Samoa Government for mandatory coronavirus screening of all passengers forced the cruise liner to cancel its visit.

The decision has left Savalalo market vendors counting their losses as the cancellation follows that of Costa Atlantica during the Christmas week and the mid-January cancellation of the Seven Seas Navigator, both of which were attributed to concerns about the measles epidemic. 

The Emerald Princess was expected to be the largest cruise ship to arrive in Samoa out of 11 that are expected to arrive between February and May this year. 

Three vendors at the Savalalo market have expressed their concerns, saying the cancellations have resulted in losses for their business. 

One of the vendors, Manumalo Taulagi, said they were excited to hear of the visit this Saturday following the cancellations of two cruise ship visits last December and January.

But their happiness was short lived as they later found out of the cancellation of the tour.  

"Whenever we hear of a cruise coming here to Samoa, we are always excited to come to our stall because it is our lucky day," he said. "Hearing about the u-turn by the cruise liner that was supposed to be here sometime this week just saddens me, because it is a big loss to us vendors.”

Mr Taulagi sells t-shirts and other traditional handicrafts at the market.

According to the vendor, they later heard that the vessel cancelled due to the mandatory checks for coronavirus. 

"We heard that they had to deny the cruise liner because they want to protect Samoa from the deadly coronavirus and like they say ‘prevention is better than cure’.”

His colleagues Katarina Sunema and Fitisina Tauloa, while lamenting the loss of business and its impact on their livelihood, said the risks associated with coronavirus is high and their health is more important than their profits.

Mrs Sunema said those in authority who made the call to cancel the visits by the cruise liners should be commended. 

"I must say that was a great response, we don't need another deadly disease and money is not the issue, our health should be our priority," she said.

The cancellation ensures Samoans avoid the risks of coronavirus infection, according to Mrs Tauloa, but they continue to lose business as tourists are usually their only customers.

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