The vibrancy, the lure of Samoa

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 July 2016, 12:00AM

One of the most wonderful things about Samoa is that we might be a small country but there is diversity in interests and hobbies. Whatever you’re looking for whether it is spiritual sustenance, recreational activities or simply something for relaxation and pleasure.

It’s safe to say there is hardly a dull moment on these sunny shores. 

There is always an event that keeps us occupied, which is fantastic because it speaks of the vibrancy and colour within our community.

Some of these events have been around for years while some are not so new.

Take for instance the biggest sporting event of the week, the S.I.F.A Samoa Golf Open, which over the years has continued to bring some of the best golfers from the world to Samoa.

Since Thursday, close to 70 professionals and amateurs have been enjoying some superb weather at the Fagali’i Golf Course, adding to the excitement of this year’s tournament.

Samoa may not necessarily be the world’s greatest golfing destination but the growth of the Samoa Open over the years does tell us that it is a tournament worth developing. 

Besides, if the stories from the players and administrators that we’ve been hearing about how great the tournament is, there is reason to inject more funds and resources into such tournaments. 

We say this because sports tourism is something for Samoa to explore and develop. Take golf for example. In other countries where there are four seasons in a year, there is a limited time when one can play. Not here in Samoa. 

As all golfers will tell you, this is a country where you can play all year round. 

Which means there is no reason why we cannot have more than one major tournament a year, attracting golfers for a bit of sun and sand. 

The wonderful thing about these tournaments is not necessarily who wins. Okay maybe the serious competitors might have a different. But for most of them, it’s the camaraderie and the networks that are developed that matters. 

It’s about us hosting visitors and making them feel so welcome they can hardly wait to return to their countries and tell everyone about Samoa. 

Which is why we believe the government and the relevant authorities should place more emphasis on developing these events.

And it doesn’t have to be confined to golf. 

We’ve got some fantastic ocean and water spectacles like the popular Game Fishing tournament that is held every year. 

We recently had a seniors cricket tournament at Tuanaimato. That was another example of how these sports can attract the masses to Samoa. 

We’ve had marathons, iron man challenges, runs up the mountains and bike races across the country including Savai’i. 

They are fabulous ways to draw visitors to these shores. And let’s not forget the recent Savai’i Crossing Challenge organised by the Pualele Outrigger Canoeing Club. And many other events locally organised whether it is sports, religious, arts, educational and whatever.

These are not just some events. These are events with a global appeal and with endless potential to draw different kinds of tourists. 

Tourists, especially people who are passionate about these activities, will pay major dollars to come providing that they are organised properly with packages and what have you to ensure their stay is enjoyable and memorable.

Which reminds us about something the Minister of Tourism, Lautafi Fio Purcell said earlier this year when he took on the role. 

Listen again: “The challenge for me for the next five years, is how will we go forward with this development,” he said. 

“I believe we still haven’t reached the standard that we are supposed to be in the tourism industry.  

 “We should be thinking of different ways so that we can realise the potential of Samoa as a destination not only for tourists to visit for just days but actually stay in Samoa for a longer period and spend money in Samoa. That’s what we want.”

Great point Lautafi. Let’s explore all avenues. 

And one of the best ways forward is to provide tourists with real reasons to come to Samoa, such as events they will not want to miss out on. The simple logic is that when we give them a compelling enough reason to come to Samoa with the right systems and support mechanisms in place, they will. 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a broad topic but as we take a break this weekend, it’s something worth exploring further with the idea of putting it into action sooner rather than later. That’s what we think anyway.

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 02 July 2016, 12:00AM

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