Tourism seeks to preserve jobs at all costs

By Hyunsook Siutaia 14 July 2020, 9:00AM

The President of the Samoa Hotel Association, Tupa'i Saleimoa Va'ai says he is determined to keep employment going within the tourism industry in the face of a downturn that has ground international travel to a halt.

Despite other industries starting to return to normality tourism is continuing to generate no income as the nation’s borders remain closed. 

The small revenue that the industry is managing to draw out from local trade and quarantine is barely enough to keep most staff employed.  

"It’s all about employment for us. Maintaining our staff, but it’s not enough to cover some of the obligation, financial obligation and requirements that our businesses need to take care of," Tupa'i said in an interview with Samoa Observer 

According to Tupa'i, the only way forward is assistance from financial institutions; he had encouraged members of the association to engage in dialogue with their banks to see how they can assist the industry.

"They understand that there’s a lot at stake here, in terms of the investment in tourism," he added

"There’s $400 million tala in the entire portfolio of tourism, and they need to look after that because if that collapses, then that whole liquidity market for the bank is going to collapse."

With about 2000 R.S.E.s ( Recognised Seasonal Employers) returning home and about 4,000 unemployed in the tourism sector, Tupa'i believes that Samoa will be looking at a huge number of unemployed people unless proactive action is taken to address it.

"If we lose employment out of tourism, we’ll have to re-train everybody right back from the start and that a whole new investment that we’ll have to look at," Tupa'i said 

"We don’t have the perfect plan but we need to look at opportunities that we can do to reinvest back into tourism so that it keeps the people employed.

"And when you keep people employed, there’s money in the community and keeps the economy moving."

Recently the Government distributed $250,000 in support for the private sector to which the Samoa Hotel Association was granted $35,000. Tupa'i was fortunate and appreciative of the Government’s support.

He added the tourism industry is the most appreciated assistance so far, considering the hardships faced by the industry.

By Hyunsook Siutaia 14 July 2020, 9:00AM

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