Only ten hotels get 50 per cent electricity
Out of 140 tourism operators in Samoa, only ten hotels were eligible for the 50 per cent reduction of electricity prices through Government’s stimulus package.
This was confirmed by the Samoa Hotels Association President, Tupa'i Saleimoa Vaai, in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
He said that when the stimulus was announced, there weren’t any restrictions or conditions behind it but the tourism industry only found out later that only ten properties are entitled to the 50 per cent electricity price reduction.
The General Manager of the Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.), Tologata Tile Tuimaleali'ifano, said that there was some confusion among members of the tourism industry that must be addressed.
“With the stimulus package there are two assistance, one is for everyone which is a 10 sene reduction in the price of electricity for 6 months while up to 50 per cent reduction in for the hotel’s daily fixed rates for three months,” he added.
Tologata relayed that there are hotels that are not in the category of fixed tariff per day, so only the hotels that are included in the daily fixed rate that are entitled to the 50 per cent.
“While the small hotels that do not utilise a large amount of electricity they are not charged with fixed rate daily.”
However, Tupai said that the 140 tourism operators which include hotels, resorts, beach fale, and accommodations make up the bulk of the industry.
“It is appreciated that the Government has helped but it is not quite enough considering that most of these hotels’ activities have fallen 80 to 90 per cent," he said.
“The electricity bills are a lot less but considering that there is no income coming in at the moment with all the restrictions, we would have loved to see it come across through all of the industry.
“Despite the stimulus being announced the industry is still suffering and it will remain to be in hardship until such a time that borders will open.”
He also added that their association’s priority is the safety of the country with Samoa remaining COVID-19 free.
The Ministry of Finance’s Chief Executive Officer, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, highlighted that Government has done a lot in providing assistance to all sectors not just tourism.
“The 50 per cent only applies to big hotels, small hotels are included in the consumers like ourselves they are benefiting from that electricity reduction,” he said.
He then added that the 50 per cent reduction is a fixed rate applied only to big consumers, which is a lot.
“On top of the electricity assistance, we’re also paying 2 per cent interest to all the commercial loans for three months that is another huge assistance from Government.
“We’re also providing subsidy for those unemployed in all sectors not just [tourism] and a host of other measures that we have already announced.
“Bear in mind that Samoa Airways is another Government contribution to the sector and for two or three years now Government has been providing that assistance so we have done a lot. I think we are also expecting the private sector to step up their game.”
The President of Hotels Association added that the biggest concern from its members is the domestic economy.
“There is already enough struggles and hardships with international borders being closed, we again put forward to Government to think about opening up fully the domestic economy that gives the opportunities to the businesses not only just tourism.
“Our focus of course is tourism specific because we need to ensure that the industry survives or comes through this the minimal impact that it can have but of course that is depending solely on some of these restrictions being lifted that is currently being put in place such as events.
"We are very appreciative of Government in terms of National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) for some of the things we have asked relaxing some of the rules. One of them is weddings; I know that a lot of people wanted to get married over the last couple of months.”
Tupai also mentioned that the tourism industry wants to fully open through the domestic economy to give all businesses opportunities.
“There are no cases in Samoa, I think the times we have spent on lockdown has also educated and prepared our people for when there is a time to go back to lockdown.
“At this point of time, after being under lockdown for three months now opening up domestic market allows opportunity for businesses especially tourism to have some sort form of income generate and re-employ some of their workers.
“It is one of the points that we are trying to see if we can restart dialogues with Government especially with Ministry of Finance. We are keen to try and at least convince Government to open up the domestic economy.”
He added that the main concern going forward for tourism is that because there is absolutely no income coming in, it’s the ability to meet its financial obligations.
“And in that regards, that is the issue the industry will continue to face and has not been addressed as of yet.”
The ten hotels include the Sheraton Samoa Beach Road, Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort, Taumeasina Resort, Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Return to Paradise Resort, Coconut Resort, Sinalei Tropical Resort, Saletoga Sands Resort Ltd, Jet Over Hotel, and Tofamamao Project.