31 December, 2009     

Report on China International Travel Mart

Cabinet has approved the report on China International Travel Mart (CITM) international exhibition, which was held in KunmingChina, 19 - 22 November 2009.
 
The CITM exhibition is one of the biggest in terms of trade and business in Asia.   Its an opportunity for retailers to strike deals with business people and customers from Asia and the world over. The exhibition also focuses on traveling matters   and media.
 
As mentioned in the report a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Government of China and the Government of Samoa that qualifies Samoa to become an Approved Destination Status for the people of China. The idea is to   increase the number of Chinese tourists to visit Samoa.
 
Plans for the Air Pacific to fly the Hong Kong - Nadi route is on the way and this will be a very important step as:
  • Chinese people will fly directly to the Pacific;
  • Chinese citizens do not need visitor visas to enter Samoa;
  • An opportunity to promote Samoa and other countries on the Air Pacific route.

After the exhibition, the Samoa Tourism Authority Marketing Manager, Dwayne Bentley attended a meeting with the Electric Art to set promotional programmes for 2010.
 
SOURCE: Government Press Secretariat   23 December, 2009     

Footy stars Andrew Johns, Wendell Sailor Nigel Vagana and Roy Asotasi help out in Samoa

Exclusive by Nick Walshaw
From: The Daily Telegraph
December 23, 2009 12:00AM

ANDREW Johns is reading a book he knows will never be finished. Knows because The Commissar is sitting partially submerged in a boggy wasteland.

All muddy pages, fading type and cover ripped away. Opened eerily at Chapter 19 like, maybe, after a daytime nap, its owner will be returning to this wartime tale.

But no one is coming back to Salani Surf Resort, on the Samoan island of Upolu's south-east coast.

Nothing for anyone along this battered stretch of coastline save the concrete rubble and twisted metal currently being piled high by two orange Hitachi excavators that now call this stretch of devastation home. Them and the ghosts.

Gone are those dozen Salani beachside bungalows with sweeping Pacific Ocean views. Gone, too, the manicured gardens. Even the restaurant bar where owner Nick Shannon once downed Vailima beers with Johns has been swept away with 180 Samoan lives after an earthquake-triggered tsunami.

And in its place is mud, some splintered timber and uprooted concrete pylons. That lonely coconut tree, too, from which Shannon clung horizontally while hammered by a wave locals insist was sent by Satan himself.

"Frightening," Johns murmurs as, finally, he looks up from the book no one will finish to a landscape he no longer recognises. "Absolutely frightening."

This is why Joey Johns is back in Samoa. Back on this favoured holiday isle where a family friend is among the dead. Where three mates' resorts are part of the $170 million damage bill. Where some 50km of carnage will be visited over the next three days with fellow NRL stars Wendell Sailor, Roy Asotasi and Nigel Vagana.

They'll hold coaching clinics on a Poutasi field still covered in ocean rocks. Donate their NRL bounty to children boasting only the shirts on their backs.

And visit beachside schools that, physically, no longer exist. And everywhere they will hear the stories. Like that of the heartbroken father who stood in the churning whitewater with three children and only two hands.

Or the little schoolgirl who refused to leave her ageing grandmother's side, refused her order to run, until that surging wall of blackness simply took her anyway.

It's why Sailor will disappear to walk the battered coastline alone. Why Johns reads from The Commissar while Vagana, a chief in his mother's village of Fasito'o-Uta, seems transfixed by one mangled wheelchair sitting alone among the rubble - facing the Pacific like a trusty old hound awaiting its owner's return.

And from their grieving comes the giving. Of Sailor explaining his footy secrets to kids who've run 7km to hear it. Or Vagana distributing NRL clocks, shirts and caps. Footies, boots and mugs. Asotasi throwing Souths Cares packages from the mini-van while Johns hands over even the Nike hat from his head.

And, sure, none of this compares with those Aussie doctors who, in the 10 days after the tsunami struck, conducted 1060 emergency operations. Their bounty also paling in comparison to those 200 tonnes of stores shipped in by HMAS Tobruk.

"But this is the eighth aid mission I've been involved with," Samoan rugby legend Stan To'omalatai says. "And the first that has made these children smile."

NOTHING defines Lepa village quite like the road leaving it. Not the South Coast tourist drag. That winding strip of bitumen, which for years has delivered Johns to this peerless Pacific utopia. No, instead we're talking a road all rough dirt and rocky corrugations.

Rising quickly, steeply and desperately into the mountain behind. Scores of hastily hacked trees still laying fallen by the roadside in testimony to the chaos in which they were cut.

"Incredible," Asotasi deadpans as we slowly climb. "It's like this entire road is saying, 'See ya'." Indeed, back in September this road was little more than a jungle track into the tarot plantations where the Lepa villagers have forever made their living. Now it's the only way to find them. The sole link to this community who lost 46 souls when that September 29 tsunami struck.

Who headed for the hills and, 24 hours later, were still being found huddled together in tiny groups. Crying, shivering, terrified.

Three months on, they're still refusing to go back. Won't even erect their donated Rotary tents in view of the ocean. "And these are people who've survived on the Pacific for centuries," says Aussie big wave surfer Dylan Longbottom. "That's why, personally, I wanna get them down that hill."

One of four surfers on this tour as part of the Waves Of Hope charity, Longbottom not only tames waves bigger than those three 30-foot monsters that struck Samoa, he understands their fear.

Longbottom's brother Darren, you see, was carving waves when a freak accident saw him crush both his C6 and C7 vertebrae. Rendered a quadriplegic overnight.

"So, of course, you fear the ocean when you're best mate can't hold a fork," he shrugs. "But what happened to my brother, what happened here, mate, freak accidents. That's the truth that takes you back."

It's also the heartbeat of this trip.

Why acting Prime Minister Misa Telefoni greets Johns with that Wordsworth line about the best portion of a man's life being "his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love".

Why, too, five Samusu builders will never forget the day Roy Asotasi stopped a mini-bus to personally hand them Rabbitohs backpacks.
It's Vagana deliberately searching out those kids with the sadness in their eyes to comfort in Samoan.

And Sailor, just before disappearing through customs, calling back to assure that all Australians will soon know that beautiful Samoa is still open for business.

But mostly it's that crumbling building on the road near Saleaaumua, where the only standing wall has been scrawled upon in bright red. Like the author wants every Samoan to read his message of RIP Y'all ... and beneath: Life Goes On.
  21 December, 2009     

SURVIVOR: SAMOA'S Finale was the Most Watched Survivor Finale in Seven Seasons

A steadfast fan favourite, last night’s final tribal council determined the champion of the most riveting Survivor season in recent years. And the proof is in the numbers. 2.8 million Canadians tuned into Global for the finale of Survivor: Samoa – the 19th edition of the groundbreaking reality series.

In total, an astounding 6.1 million Canadians watched all or a part of last night’s season finale and reunion special.

SURVIVOR: SAMOA FINALE (8pm) DATA HIGHLIGHTS:

· Most-watched finale audience since Survivor: Panama in 2006
· 2.8 million viewers 2+; 72% more viewers than last Spring’s Survivor: Tocantins finale
· 1.6 million viewers in key A18-49 demo
· Won the night nationally, and in all major markets, in every demo
· Almost 3 times the audience of closest competitor, CTV’s Shrek The Third and The Bourne Supremacy

Fans who missed the finale can catch up anytime at GlobalTV.com.

The all-new Survivor Season 20: Heroes Vs. Villains premieres Thursday, February 11, 2010.

Source: All data, as of August 31st 2009, BBM Canada PPM Overnight Data. CHANNEL CANADA Canada's Entertainment and Broadcasting Information   13 December, 2009     

Samoa is calling you

A vacation to the country ravaged by a tsunami in September offers pure delights – in other areas and ways, TAMARA McLEAN writes .
 
‘‘It’s Savai’i’s time to shine’’ thanks to its natural attractions such as beautiful beaches and blowholes, below.

As the hefty Pacific tide rolls in, our host grabs a fresh coconut and stands poised, statue-still, waiting for his moment to pounce. In a second he leaps forward, hurls the nut into a small hole on the rocky cliff top, and then recoils to safety.  A deafening ‘‘ker-thump’’ fills our ears before a massive hydrant of water beams up into the sky, catapulting the brown ball improbably high out over the ocean.  ‘‘Woo-hoo,’’ he yells, drenched in spray but beaming his huge island smile. ‘‘Best in Pacific, I tell you.’’  Awestruck and hearts racing, we’re sure he’s right. Blowholes are a quintessentially Polynesian experience but never before have we seen such extreme force.  We’ve come to the tropical island of Savai’i in search of a guilt-free Samoan holiday, a vacation to the country ravaged by a tsunami but an island untouched by those deadly waves.  The idea was to be able to support the beautiful nation celebrated as the Pacific’s friendliest without the confrontation of dealing with destruction.  It’s a concept that Samoa’s tourism authority hopes Australians will fervently adopt, with my enthusiastic guide exclaiming, ‘‘it’s Savai’i’s time to shine’’. ‘‘If Australians want to come and support us in these hard times then this is the place to go,’’ he says.

Aussies have only started to really embrace Samoa as a destination in very recent times.
Our visitor numbers, for example, have doubled in the past four years as more travellers, generally intrepid types happy for a laid-back authentic experience, fall in love with the place.
By far the majority were flying into the capital, Apia, and then tracking over to the picturesque south coast to sun themselves at rustic family-run villa accommodation or one of four more upmarket resorts.

All but one was badly damaged on September 29, and while rebuilding plans are afoot the coast is largely closed to tourists for several months to come.

Enter Savai’i, an island the same size and just 90 minutes away by ferry.

It’s not exactly an undiscovered gem. New Zealanders realised years ago that it has the same sweeping white sand beaches, superslow island pace and welcoming, locally run resorts as tsunami-hit Upolu. Just far fewer people.

‘‘Look, there’s no one here,’’ says my guide as we cruise the oceanside road in our rental car. ‘‘Just a dog here, a chicken there. Oh!’’ he says, breaking to allow a litter of piglets to cross safely.

Sure enough, the coastline is clear and open, the sole domain of white, aquamarine and the green of swaying palms.

We pass several little fales (traditional thatch huts) on the beachfront that charge the equivalent of a mere $A25 to $A40 a night per person for breakfast, dinner and a traditional rustic shack just a few steps from the water. Elsewhere there are more luxurious resorts, such as Le Lagoto and Siufaga, which carry a bigger price tag but the comforts to match.

There’s definitely no shortage of places to lay your head, nor things to see or do, for that matter.

First stop in our whirlwind trip is the famed Turtle Swim, which basically involves climbing into a freshwater pool to feed a dozen of the creatures as they paddle their stubby flippers around you. Mouths open, they keenly grab chunks of papaya out of our hands and are happy to take a ticklish nibble of our legs, too. We’re assured these amazing shelled beasts are only held in captivity temporarily, until the turtles reach a certain size and are freed into the ocean.

Further along the road we pass over a field of dried lava, the remnant of an eruption that wiped out a village in 1905.

Samoans love an ancient fable so of course there’s one to explain this gluggy black mess.
‘‘Legend has it that the village was filled with bad people who didn’t go to church so the lava punished them,’’ says my guide matter-of-factly.

Soon we pass Afu Aau waterfall and swimming pool, a spectacular display set in virgin rainforest, but we’re bound for the island’s highlight.  The famed blowholes at Alofaaga are barely signposted, so watch you don’t miss them. We’re here for the natural fireworks but of course there’s a story to go with these too. ‘‘This one’s a goodie,’’ says my guide before outlining how the impressive holes are symbols of the love between a woman and an eel. ‘‘She found him in the ocean and kept him in the pools, so they’re all about that love.’’ And power, too, we conclude after watching the thundering display and the coconut being tossed 25m into the air.

It’s hard to drag ourselves away but now it’s time to return to the port.

We’ve seen enough to be convinced this beautiful island is a destination in its own right and we’ll be back, next time for all the beachside lazing and cocktail slurping that accompanies a gorgeous guilt-free island holiday.

The writer was a guest of the Samoan Tourism Authority (www.samoa.travel)
Source - Sunday Canberra Times