Travel agent banks on vaccine success

The owner of a local immigration and travel agency is banking on Samoa’s vaccination program leading to the reopening of borders and the resumption of business. 

Roberta Tiatia of the LotoTau Agency and Immigration Service at Malifa told the Samoa Observer that her firm was crippled by the COVID-19 global pandemic and led to loss of business for her company.

“My business has been impacted a lot, I lost a lot of business because I work with companies outside so we have certain quarters of people go to hotels and it’s all because no one can travel,” she said in an interview.

“So the good thing about the vaccine, I hope that the vaccine will come to affect and will enable us to travel because there are a lot of people that are stuck here that need to be in New Zealand, they got resident visas but they can’t go.

“Some people got lucky at the quota and others need to visit their families but are still on hold. 

“It is a much needed thing for everyone before they travel to be vaccinated.”

Despite her challenges on the business front, she pointed to the positives that should come from having the whole country vaccinated.

And urged people who have concerns about vaccines to think about the long-term benefits.

“Keeping our people safe is more than money and business I suggest,” Mrs Tiatia added.

“There is a risk in everything that we do but as long as it is safe, then it is a good thing as we try to live normal again. 

“If it is a safe vaccination and it will help people to travel out, my business will be back to normal as well.”

Over a year after the caretaker Government first declared the state of emergency in March last year, the businesswoman said everyone should continue to take the necessary precautions by maintaining a high level of sanitisation and hygiene.

“We are still going to be careful, wash our hands and quarantine and if we can manage that, the vaccine is a double barrier for us and it’s better to have that safety. 

“We still have some visa applications that are on hold and it’s been a year now, we have resident applications, temporary applications, work visa applications still sitting here and we can’t do anything about it, and we are praying that the vaccine does work so that these people can travel.”

Seasonal workers travel as well as quota registration are some areas her company has focused on pre-COVID-19, but is now on hold for two years and she was forced to release her two employees.

Mrs Tiatia has been a visa application adviser and an immigration specialist for the past ten years.

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