Tourism in free fall; remittances rise

The prolonged closure of Samoa’s international borders has continued to severely affect its tourism sector, which recorded no earnings for July 2020 - a decline partially offset by rising remittances. 

The broader tourism price index fell further by 29.0 per cent over the year, according to new figures. 

The dire state of the industry was revealed in a report released this month on "Visitor Earnings and Remittances for July 2020" jointly compiled by the Central Bank, Samoa Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry for Revenue.

According to the report, Samoa continues to have no case of COVID-19 the unprecedented global crisis having a deadly effect on the world as a whole.

The fall in the tourism price index, which measures the cost of accessing tourism goods and services, was due mostly to a 46 per cent decline in accommodation. Other contributing factors were a drop of 13.8 per cent in accommodation and 13.8 per cent in ‘family obligations and miscellaneous’ which were both down by 3.3 per cent; ‘meals and drinks’ were down by 1.4 per cent sub-indices.

But the total inflows of private remittances increased by 2.6 per cent or $1.4 million to $54.9 million over the year. And was 5.3 per cent or $2.8 million higher when compared to the previous month.

The increase was due to higher transfers from Australia, which grew by $5.9 million; New Zealand which was up by $2.4 million; and American Samoa up by $1.6 million.

Partially responsible for this increase was the depreciation of the Samoan Tala against both the Australian dollar (by 1 per cent) and the U.S. dollar (by 0.5 per cent). 

By recipient, the ‘family and households’ category recorded an increase of $17.2 million, outweighing decreases in ‘hand carried cash’, ‘non-profit institutions serving households’; ‘others’; and ‘in-kind’ transfers.

The monthly share of remittances inflows received through Money Transfer Operators (M.T.O.s) expanded to 92.9 per cent from 78.7 per cent in July.

Money received through commercial banks fell to 7.1 per cent in July 2020 from 21.3 per cent in July 2019.

The average monthly cost of sending NZD$200.00 to Samoa fell from 12.30 per cent to 10.33 per cent while the average cost of sending AUD$200.00 also fell to 8.90 per cent from 9.09 per cent over the year.


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