Tourism industry prepares for border's reopening

The Samoa Tourism Authority is working behind the scenes with local operators and national agencies as well as with the New Zealand government to ensure the Pacific nation is ready when a travel bubble is announced.

S.T.A. Chief Executive Officer Faamatuainu Lenatai Suifua said that they have been working hard to ensure the nation is prepared for when the borders reopen with the appropriate neighbouring countries.

“As regional travel bubbles take shape, Samoa has been striving to ensure critical components of our travel ready toolkit are in place,” he said in a statement issued by the authority.

He added that all of these efforts will go towards ensuring Samoa is in a position to open its borders to its neighbours safely.

“We look forward to welcoming vaccinated visitors with open arms, when the time is right for all countries involved.”

The statement further said that a series of developments and new processes have been implemented to make Samoa travel ready, ensuring the health and safety of local Samoans and international travellers is of the utmost priority when finalising a travel ready framework. 

“Samoa’s robust preparations include a national vaccination rollout, their own version of the digital tracing app, upskilling for local employees, upgraded travel instructions, and bolstered testing capabilities.”

The statement also said that after successful travel bubbles were launched between Australia and New Zealand in April and the Cook Islands and New Zealand, “Samoa is anticipating a similar development in the second half of 2021.”

Some of the new initiatives include Samoa’s own version of a COVID tracer app, the Samoa Travel Tracer, which is a joint initiative with the Samoa Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Health. The app will be used for contract tracing for locals and travellers in Samoa. 

The new tracer app will include Bluetooth capabilities to assist in tracking COVID-19 positive cases and their close contacts for stronger contact tracing capacity.

Additionally, the S.T.A. delivered the first round of health, safety and disinfectant training to upskill employees on the necessary health measures and protocols for mitigate the effects of COVID-19. 

With assistance from the New Zealand government, the sector has been fully supported through the provision of cleaning equipment, substances and PPE.

Furthermore on upgraded travel instructions and testing capabilities: the Samoa National Emergency Operations Centre has declared that from July 1 this year all travellers into Samoa must be fully vaccinated before they arrive.

The testing capabilities of the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) have also been recently boosted. To date the tourism industry has been Samoa’s most impacted sector with zero data of tourists and earnings. 

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