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Prior to health crises, Samoa's visitor numbers booming

Prior to the measles epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic, Samoa was enjoying good period in terms of visitor numbers with an increase of 13.2 per cent noted for the financial year 2018/019.

That represents a total of $514.1 million for the period in question. International visitors increased by 9.3 per cent to 178,564, compared to 163,323 in 2017/18.

The growth in both visitor numbers and earnings again largely attributed to the increase in access through aviation capacity.  This was highlighted in Samoa Tourism Authority’s 2018/2019 annual report.

According to the report, it states that during the period under review, tourism continued to thrive and remain the cornerstone for the development of Samoa.

In addition, it accounted for at least 25 per cent of the workforce and contributing to a third of Samoa’s total foreign reserves.  

Within the report, it states that the reported financial year was indeed successful in terms of the set target growth rates for the industry as a whole; this is according to the executive summary.

It also clarified further that total visitors to Samoa in totality grew by 9.3 per cent and tourism earnings by 13.2 per cent both superseding annual targets of 5 per cent respectively.

The visiting friends and relatives (V.F.R.) surpassed holiday visitors for the year, after seven years of holiday visitor dominance in the visitors by purpose category, driven mostly by the low-cost airfares offered by Samoa Airways and the other airlines which were compelled to match. 

The Authority will continue to invest in drawing the V.F.R. to utilize our tourism accommodation properties.

More emphasis has been on the China Pacific Tourism Year in Samoa has opened up more opportunities and partnerships for our industry not only for China but also the Asian market.  

Australia was the best performing of Samoa’s key markets and grew by 23.7 per cent for the period recording an absolute net increase of 7,827 visitors as we continue to take advantage of destination exposure gained through the Australian Survivor series as well as the increased flights out of Brisbane through the new Samoa Airways services launched in November 2018.

However, New Zealand continues to be Samoa’s top market that provides 45 per cent of our international visitors; it grew by 6.5 per cent or 4,987 visitors 76,148 to 81,135 and was mainly driven by our V.F.R. market.

The marketing activities now implemented through the Samoa Tourism Growth Partnership (S.T.G.P.) with N.Z. aid are also a major factor with increased focus on digital marketing and family activities targeting its holiday travelers.

The market for United States of America couldn’t quite replicate the solid growth it achieved in the 2017/18 period and only grew by 3.3 per cent although it has grown by a respectable 48.5 per cent when compared to five years ago.

American Samoa was the only one of our primary markets that recorded a decrease in its year on year numbers after the troubles that the territory experienced with accessing Federal funds during the period.

The European and Asian markets performed very well for the recording growth rates of 14.1 per cent and 37.2 per cent respectively over the previous year with both more than doubling their visitor numbers over the past five years. This is pleasing given that our latest International Visitor Survey (I.V.S.) data has identified these markets as having a significantly higher average daily spend or higher yield per visitor when compared to our other markets.

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