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Association calls for subsidies, job security in tourism

The Samoa Hotel Association has appealed to the Samoa Government to offer financial subsidies to the tourism employees, similar to what the Government employees are receiving. 

Association President, Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai, told Samoa Observer in an interview that the tourism industry has been crippled and they are thankful for the assistance highlighted in the Government's stimulus package.

“Tourism has no earnings. We hoped there would be assistance in maintaining the tourism industry and we are thankful there is assistance offered in the Stimulus relief,” he said.

In measures passed unanimously by Parliament on Tuesday, the Government's interventions are targeted at consumers to the value of $27.5 million, including a one-off pension of $300 and waivers on utility bills. 

About $12.5 million or 20 per cent of the budget was dedicated to the private sector, which included waivers on Samoa National Provident Fund (S.N.P.F.) contributions for tourism businesses for up to six months, and local production subsidies that free local enterprises from loan repayment obligations for three months. 

Tupa’i said there is no income coming in for the industry and with the moratorium if there is no income to pay anything what does it amount to.

“From the tourism's point of view, we would like to offer the same security the Government is offering their employees; the security of their job, but the reality of it is that we don’t have any income and we were hoping for employee subsidies to enable us to maintain our workers,” he said. 

According to the Samoa Tourism Authority, the tourism sector includes accommodation providers, restaurants, travel agents, tour operators, rental vehicles, tourism sites and activity providers; where there is six-month assistance on contribution payments for the tourism sector. 

“Employers in the hospitality sector will be permitted to postpone their contributions payments for the six-month period January to June 2020 to be payable only in July.

“And subject to certain conditions, members in the affected sector to be allowed; 20 per cent early withdrawal for members in the hospitality sector who have lost employment due to COVID-19; member loans offset from contributions;  early withdrawal of either: 20 per cent of net contributions or $4,000 tala whichever is lesser."

For those that have lost their jobs as a direct result of the COVID-19 global pandemic and wish to take advantage of this assistance, they should apply. 

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