Domestic tourism the focus amidst pandemic uncertainty

The Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) will be meeting again with the National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) in the coming months in a bid to relax restrictions in order to assist the tourism industry.

The plan was revealed by the Chief Executive Officer, Fa'amatuainu Lenatai Suifua, who told the Samoa Observer that they continue to look at ways to assist the struggling industry and revisiting the N.E.O.C. to discuss the state of emergency (S.O.E.) restrictions are on the cards.

He said with the closure of the borders and the absence of international tourists they have to work with the stricken sector to see how they can get business in the current circumstances.

"We have been working with Samoa Hotels Association in terms of reducing the prices of the rooms, having events," he said.

“In the meantime, we are trying. It’s not a hundred per cent but we are trying as much as possible to assist where we can and the coming months we will try and seek assistance from N.E.O.C. in terms of easing some of the restrictions.”

Last month, the 2020 Palolo Festival was hosted in Savai’i and this month they will run the ‘Around the Coast Fiafia’ according to Fa'amatuainu, and it is during such events when the S.T.A. will try to assist operators to generate some revenue.

He explained that the programme will start from Lalomanu and Saleapaga, before moving around the island to offer activities as well as bands for people to attend and be entertained on the weekends in a safe environment, while hoteliers capitalise on the opportunity.

Asked about S.T.A's plans for international marketing of Samoa, he explained that he understands the international borders are closed but that does not stop them from continuing with their promotions overseas.

He is of the view that sooner or later the borders will open and things will go back to normal, but the tourism sector cannot wait to resume business so when borders reopen work has already been done.

Pacific neighbours Fiji and the Cook Islands are also competing with Samoa to woo tourists, especially on social media during the pandemic lockdown, the C.E.O. added.

He explained that data shows that there is a lot of competition during the lockdown, though there is a focus within the S.T.A. on reinvigorating the domestic market. 

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