Samoa Hotel Association elects new president
The Samoa Hotels Association Executive Council have elected Savaiian hotelier, Tupa’i Saleimoa Va’ai as their new President.
Tupa’i has been in the hotel industry for the last nine years and told the Samoa Observer that he is relatively still a newcomer compared to the industry veterans.
But he said he is honoured to be elected to the role and accepts the challenge put before him.
Being a Savaii based hospitality businessman presents some logistical challenges for mostly Upolu based meetings and events but Tupai will take that in stride pointing out that now is the time to bring the industry together and they will be looking at ways to link Upolu based tourism industry with their Savaii counterparts.
“Our industry is at the point where we are on the verge of breaking through and we’re at that critical position now where we have to find the balance between the bigger brands and smaller hotels.” Said Tupa’i “we are such emerging destination and have been talking about this for a long time -tourism is growing.”
“We want to ensure our local operators are not left behind as our industry and our clientele develops and grows - we also need to grow with them and we can’t expect to stay the same. What makes Samoa unique is our people and our culture and we don’t want to become too commercialized but at the same time we want to have enough people so that all the stakeholders are surviving and thriving which contributes to our economy.”
The President of S.H.A. is confident that the newly elected executive and board reflect the direction they intend to take as a collective, looking forward with a fresh perspective while guided by industry experience.
“We got a good mixture with the two veterans, Sose Annandale and Keriti Ah Liki.” He said “we got two of the bigger hotels with Mark Francis from Sheraton and Jay from Tanoa. It’s good to have some new industry players but we still need some old hands that were right there from the start.”
“Being elected President is a testament of our membership and we’re very thankful to them for putting us in those positions - got a lot of work to do. We’re not here to come and change a lot of things but a good testament to our old presidents is the previous exec who have done the hard yards and put us in a position where we are able to talk to government easily and create ties with the other private sectors as well.”
This year Tupa’i stepped down as President of the Samoa Savaii Tourism Association after almost five years but he says it was a blessing in disguise as it freed him up to the mantle for S.H.A. He mentions that the members of S.H.A. in Savaii who are also members of the S.S.T.A have been very supportive of his new role,
“without the support of the Savaii based S.H.A. and S.S.T.A. members, its going to be a big challenge for me to run to and from the islands and I am very grateful to them for their hard work and commitment.”
“It’s a learning curve for me and it’s the reason why I’m happy with the board and council of well experienced people in the industry because they will help me and guide me along the way. I don’t have all the answers but I’m hopeful that the experience from Savaii and being a member of S.H.A. will add value to my time as President.
2018/19 Samoa Hotel Association Executive Council
President: Tupa’i Saleimoa Va’ai of Vaimoana Seaside Lodge;
Vice President: Fia’ailetoa Charlotte Brunt of Orator Hotel Samoa;
Treasurer: Jay Krishna of Tanoa Tusitala Hotel;
Secretary: Vaimoana Hunt Lee of Moanalisa Hotel Samoa;
Executive Council Member: Ali’imuamua Kereti Ah Liki of Jetover Hotel Salelologa & Ulalei Lodge;
Mark Francis of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Greys Hotel & Bungalows & Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort; and
Sose Annandale of Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Samoa.