Zero tourism earnings, remittances drop

February this year has become the eleventh consecutive month for the country to record zero tourist arrivals and subsequently earnings generated from potential visits. 

The slump in tourist numbers was highlighted in a monthly report titled "Visitor Earnings and Remittances for February 2021" which was released by the Central Bank of Samoa on 31 March 2021. 

“With the continuous closure of Samoa’s international borders for the safeguarding and protection of its people with the exception of scheduled repatriation flights for returning Samoan citizens only, both tourist arrivals and earnings remained at zero for the eleventh consecutive month,” read the report. 

The monthly release is the latest available indicator on the tourism sector and private remittances, with the information based on data from the C.B.S., Samoa Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry for Revenue.  

According to the report, total remittances inflow recorded a 1.4 per cent or $0.6 million decrease to $41.4 million compared to February last year. However, it was 2.3 per cent or $0.9 million higher when compared to the previous month. 

Furthermore, the report says that the factors behind the overall decline over the same month last year were decreases in funds received from the U.S.A. (down by $3.0 million) and Others (down by $1.5 million).

“By recipients, reductions were recorded for ‘Hand-carried cash’ (down by $4.1 million), ‘Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) (down by $2.7 million), ‘Others’ (down by $1.4 million) and ‘In Kind’ (down by $0.1 million), offsetting a $7.7 million jump in funds for individuals and households.

“Overall, the total inflow of private remittances in the first eight months of 2020/21 expanded by 8.7 per cent (or $32.4 million) to $405.9 million over the same period of 2019/20. 

“Underpinning this expansion were higher transfers from Australia (up by $25.7 million), American Samoa (up by $13.2 million) and New Zealand (up by $12.5 million) respectively.”

In addition, partially responsible for the increase in private remittances was the depreciation of the Samoan Tala against both the Australian dollar (by 4.1 per cent) and New Zealand dollar (by 2.5 per cent) in that order.

In terms of recipient, higher funds were recorded for ‘Family and Households’ (up by $103.7 million) offsetting reductions in all other recipients. 

The monthly share of remittances inflows received through money transfer operators increased to to 88.9 per cent from 76.5 per cent in February 2020 while those received directly through commercial banks fell to 11.1 per cent from 23.5 per cent last year. 

The average monthly cost of sending NZD$200.00 to Samoa contracted to 10.48 per cent in February 2021 from 13.57 per cent last year whereas the average cost of sending AUD$200.00 to Samoa increased to 8.90 per cent from 8.56 per cent over the year. 

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