Miss Samoa keen to promote tourism
Miss Pacific Islands and Miss Samoa, Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland-Seumanu, has appealed to tourists to choose Samoa as their holiday destination as the country tries to recover from the measles epidemic and fears of coronavirus.
Travel restrictions imposed by the Government to address the threat posed by coronavirus, and the potential shutdown of the Apia-Nadi flight route has struck fear within the tourism industry, which is already staring down the barrel of a $10million loss as a result of the measles outbreak.
Ms. Seumanu told the Samoa Observer during an interview that using her role as an Ambassador for Samoa she wants to promote her country.
“Prior to being Miss Samoa my knowledge around the tourism field was very minimal,” she said. “I think health, education and tourism are my three main priorities. I think that what differentiates Samoa from the rest of our pacific island countries is our culture."
She added that since taking on the role of Miss Samoa, she has learned to appreciate what she can do for her country, especially because with the impact of the measles epidemic.
“And that encompasses all aspects of what we wear in terms of our traditional attire, traditional foods, customs and traditions and you can only really experience that here in Samoa.”
She said that Samoa has beautiful beaches and landmarks which are quite unique.
“For me, as a tamaitai Samoa (Samoan lady), if I can just exemplify that in my everyday role from the way I speak and the way I interact with people, that’s one way of contributing to the tourism side of things.
“I want to reassure our tourists and people outside Samoa that our country is a safe place for travel.
“We do encourage all who are travelling to Samoa to do their measles injection two weeks before traveling to Samoa.”
Miss Samoa also applauds the Ministry of Health for their efforts in keeping the people safe.
“Samoa has been quite vigilant in terms of screening passengers for coronavirus and we are trying to rebuild our country right now. For any tourist, if you want to make a difference in wanting to help our economy then Samoa would be the best place to travel."
The Miss Pacific Islands, who is a nurse by profession, has continued to volunteer her time to help the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) with their vaccination programmes.
“It is a privilege that I can work as a registered nurse for the people and also be the face of Samoa.”
According to the Samoa Tourism Authority C.E.O., Fa'amatuainu Lenata’i Suifua, a survey of 40 of the 140 hotels registered with the Authority (including the country's "deluxe hotels") show that the amount of cancelled bookings attributed to the measles epidemic amounted to $2.4 million.
The industry has been further hit by the cancellation of visits of two cruise ships, which had been scheduled to dock in Apia with thousands of passengers and have a broader economic flow-on effect on restaurants, attractions, markets and transport.
The setback to the industry comes after it was credited by the Government for being the engine of the nation's economic growth in the last financial year.
The tourism sector registered gains in visitor numbers of more than 15 per cent in the third quarter of 2019, while expenditure by tourists grew even faster, by more than 18 per cent according to Central Bank figures.