Affected tourism workers get training

Over 700 tourism workers who were affected by an industry-wide shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have benefited from a Government-supported upskilling program.

The courses that the workers are doing are tailored around the needs of the tourism sector and aim to boost quality visitor experience in Samoa, as the struggling industry prepares for the re-opening of international borders.

Samoa Tourism Authority CEO, Fa’amatuainu Lenata’i Suifua, said in a statement that the courses were selected based on what is most relevant to the current tourism sector working environment as well as ensuring the improvement of service delivery to boost quality visitor experience.

“With ongoing challenges faced by members of our Industry, this is one of the many initiatives we have rolled out since the pandemic to not only increase capacity building but provide some assistance for members that are actually affected,” he said. “We will continue to work in collaboration with our members to create more opportunities for all.”

The initiative continues to be rolled out since September 2020 by the S.T.A as a part of the Government’s $1million Phase II of the Stimulus Package for Tourism and Hospitality.

The upskilling workshops are conducted in partnership with the National University of Samoa, Samoa Business Hub, and the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (A.P.T.C.) as service providers rolling out these courses, which are Samoan and Australian accredited and are recognised internationally.

The short courses include information and communication technology, hospitality and business essentials, food, beverage and bar servicing skills, customer service and housekeeping skill set.

Formal Courses include Certificate IV in Leadership and Management, Certificate II in Cookery, Certificate II in Food and Beverage, Certificate II in Front Office and Accommodation Services, Certificate II in Tour Guiding.

A recipient of the upskilling program, Silialaei Seumanutafa, said the opportunity was a refresher for their customer service knowledge and a chance to build on their skills as tourism service providers.

“We are so thankful for this opportunity to refresh our knowledge on customer services and also how we’ve learnt some new skills in hosting visitors when borders open up, especially with health and social precautions to take moving forward," she said in a S.T.A. statement.

Ms Seumanutafa is a tour guide at the Falealupo canopy walkway.

Another participant, Katalina Penetina Ilalio of the Le Vasa Resort, said the program taught her a lot in terms of safety and hygiene.

“There is a big chance for me to learn more in bar servicing and no wonder why our boss is always so strict on the use of proper tools and applicable hygiene practices in the workplace,” she said.

Other than the direct benefit of upskilling oneself, the participants also get a weekly allowance and those who graduate with accredited qualifications and certificates can find employment abroad. 

The upskilling programs and training were hosted by various hotels throughout Upolu and Savai’i, thanks to the assistance of the New Zealand government. The S.T.A. also acknowledged the Government of Samoa for recognising needs of the industry through the provision of an invaluable training scheme in partnership with the New Zealand government.

Key agencies that also contributed to achieving the overarching goal of the initiative were also acknowledged. They include the Ministry of Finance, National University of Samoa, Australia Pacific Training Coalition, Samoa Business Hub, Tourism Training Taskforce, Tourism and Hospitality Sector, Samoa Hotels Association, Savaii Samoa Tourism Association, and the Aleipata Tourism Alliance.

Phase II of the Government’s Stimulus Package for Tourism and Hospitality includes a wage subsidy promise for more than a thousand employees in the tourism sector, who were either made redundant, placed on leave without pay or working part-time or for reduced hours.

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