Tourism Authority chief acknowledgement holistic, says S.H.A. President

The President of the Samoa Hotels Association (S.H.A.), Tupa'i Saleimoa Vaai, has emphasised the  spirit of an acknowledgement by the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.), Fa'amatuainu Lenatai Suifua, made during an S.H.A. meeting earlier this week.

The acknowledgement of the concerns of the S.H.A. membership by the C.E.O. included an apology upon which a story titled "Tourism boss apologises to hoteliers" published on Friday. The story said Fa'amatuainu had aplogised for the Government's refusal to relax trading on Sundays, which has greatly affected tourism operators.

But Tupa'i clarified that the C.E.O. apologised to hoteliers present on the night in terms of the work S.T.A. is doing to address the concerns of the tourism industry as a whole. 

"He apologised to the industry in terms of what they’re doing in whatever small way that is not measuring up to what the industry wanted," Tupa'i said. "He was referring to it as holistic because he was waiting for everyone that night to put forth all their issues before he addressed all of them. The article made it seem like it was only on the Sunday restriction when in fact he was addressing issues put forward by the hoteliers."

Emphasising that they’ve seen a change in the working relationship between the industry and the S.T.A., Tupa'i said there is willingness by both parties to work towards an amicable solution for the industry. 

"When we saw the article we wanted to set the record straight in the context he actually meant that night," Tupa'i added. "It's not in any way to say that the government is wrong with the Sunday restrictions because in principle, we also, as Samoans support the Sunday restriction.

"As an industry, however,  it needs to be an open door because tourism is about visiting people and having visitors from overseas, so we need some sort of relaxation in terms of those regards regarding hotels." 

Tupa'i added that they understand the importance of having a balance between Government and the industry pushing forth an agenda. 

The article reported that the S.T.A. C.E.O. had apologised to the hoteliers and implied that the Government had apologised to the S.H.A. membership, but Tupa'i said that was not the case.

"The context of his apology was across the board about whatever the shortcomings that the S.T.A. wasn’t measuring up to the industry’s expectation," he reiterated. "He was reassuring everyone that night that the S.T.A. was doing their very best to address the concerns raised by the hoteliers. If you take the context of the meeting that night, it was about what we needed to do as an industry to move forward."

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