Flying into better days

By The Editorial Board 24 November 2022, 6:00AM

Better days lie ahead for Samoa and its tourism industry with increased flights from Auckland into Apia.

This means that every week we are expecting an estimated 3000 people coming into the country either as tourists or returning Samoans.

If estimation is correct, that is 12,000 visitors a month for the months of December and January as Air New Zealand begins to fly 12 times a week.

An increase in visitor arrivals equates to more foreign exchange and this will generate the local and national economy.

We are looking at more employment being created and revitalisation of an industry which over the years has been affected by the pandemic leading to the closure of hotels, three of which were up for auction.

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that tourism generates an indirect contribution to local economies equal to 100 per cent of direct expenditures.

When the borders opened up for international travel this year, a large sum of money was spent by the tourism authorities to market Samoa in the Beautiful is Back campaign. The next two months will show how successful those campaigns have been.

Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran has said that passenger capacity has been on the increase reaching pre-COVID figures.

“We are back running ahead of pre-COVID in terms of capacity. I am excited about what that's going to mean, not only in terms of the seasonal workers getting home for Christmas and families, but just as importantly, what it's going to do for tourism for the country,” Mr Foran said.

“Having spent some time in Fiji, just before we got here, I think it's going to be terrific to be able to get the tourism sector here, really up and running.”

How ready is Samoa for this boom in numbers? Do we have enough hotels? Will we be able to offer a service that will want tourists coming back for more?

The beach fale and owners of properties which hold some of Samoa’s most beautiful attractions may need to rethink strategies and work with relevant authorities to get through this and make a positive impact.

Tourism surveys have shown that tourists pick destinations mostly because of affordability. Australians would rather go to Bali than Samoa because what they would get for $100 in Bali is almost 10 times more than what they would get in Samoa.

There is also a tendency to see tourists as dollar signs walking around and businesses end up charging more or some people have the intent to squeeze them harder for every cent they have.

There is a need to move away from that thought process and perhaps engage in a manner that will become the Samoan way, something that will ensure that our visitors keep returning to our shores.

Tourism creates important multiplier effects on other sectors of the economy. There are three levels of impacts that can be estimated. The direct effects are the economic impacts derived directly from changes in tourist spending as it occurs in the tourism-related establishments. The indirect effects occur because of the increased purchases of the tourism-related businesses. The direct and indirect effects will have accrued the local income in the form of wages, salaries, profits and rent. The money spent within the local economy will generate additional economic impacts called the induced effect.

The increased flights also point out the need for Samoa to have a national carrier. For Air New Zealand this means increased business. This could have been Samoa Airways.

During the pandemic, most aviation companies survived because they were supported by their governments and as things are getting better, things are improving for the airlines.

Samoans lost employment through the decision to return the 737 aircraft. The routes are being serviced by either Air New Zealand or Fiji Airways and they are smiling all the way to the bank.

The increased flights also mean a more regular feed to the supply chain of cargo. We are staring at the possibility of having a more regular supply of goods into the country and a better pathway to increase our exports to the world.

In recent days, prices of certain food items have been questionable. Hopefully with the frequency of flights increasing we will start to get a fresher and cheaper supply of meats and other vegetables which are being imported.

An average Samoan will definitely be happier with an increased food basket for the family.

Thank you Air New Zealand for having the trust in Samoa to increase the flights, here is hoping that this will be a positive move and is reflected in cheaper airfares allowing Samoans to travel out as well.

Most of the travel destinations rely almost entirely on air services for their visitor traffic. The total economic impact of travel and tourism can be assessed by measuring current and capital expenditures in each of the fields including those by consumers, businesses, and government.  

The adequate system of air services is an essential requirement for the successful development of tourism to many destinations. Low cost carriers contributed to the increase in tourist arrivals as it caters to the different markets of consumers.

There is a powerful synergy between the development of international air transport and international tourism.

By The Editorial Board 24 November 2022, 6:00AM
Samoa Observer

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