28 June, 2010     

From Taxi Rank to World Summit

Samoa’s champion Sevens team is doing far more than just winning titles, Jon Geddes discovers

THEY are the struggling rugby team made up of taxi drivers and village farmers which has revitalised the small Pacific nation of Samoa and given its people new hope following the massive devastation wreaked by last Septembers deadly tsunami.

The giant-killing Samoan sevens side has had such an impact after being crowned 2010 world champions that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi declared a public holiday last Monday to honour the playersachievements.

And 5000 fans descended on Faleolo International Airport at 1am to give the team a heros welcome home.

The joyous scenes across Samoa are in stark contrast to the heartbreaking images of human tragedy nine months ago when the natural disaster killed 143 people and flattened entire villages.

Mr Malielegaoi told Footy Central the teams triumph had boosted the whole country as it continues to rebuild after the tsunami.

‘‘ I am very proud we have been able to achieve this distinction,’’ Mr Malielegaoi said. ‘‘But what is more important is the incentive that it will create for our young sportsmen to try to emulate the successes which these boys have been able to achieve.’’

He said the teams victory was the greatest sporting moment for a country with just 193,000 people.

The rugby minnows — crowned the kings of sevens over heavyweights such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England — consist of part-timers who are now back earning their livings in the towns and villages around Samoa. Some of them arrived in their cabs for the welcome home press conference.

‘‘ Most of them are amateurs, but when it comes to rugby the six weeks before they leave they are really committed to the task ahead,’’ coach Stephen Betham said.

As a reward for topping the IRB world rankings, the players will each receive $9410 from the Government and sponsors. Captain Lolo Lui suggested he would rather the PM gave them some land.

The squad was in Rotorua preparing for the South Pacific Games when news came through that the tsunami had hit. It has provided them with extra motivation ever since.

‘‘ That played in the back of their minds,’’ Betham said.

‘‘ That really spurred us to win the gold medal and it carried on from there. The boys have done it for the nation.’’

After arriving in Samoa, the players went to a special section of the airport to say prayers with a senior Methodist Church minister.

And for the hour-long trip on the team bus to the capital Apia, villagers lined the roadside to cheer the players.

Many burnt lanterns, some brought out Christmas decorations, others had plates of homemade food for the team.

‘‘ When we arrived we were really appreciative and really happy as the people showed their feelings,’’ said star back Mikaele Pesamino, who was voted the IRBs World Sevens Player of the Year.

The sentiment of the nation was captured by Koreti Aiono, who greeted the idols by singing Samoan ballads with other female members of her Fasitoouta village.

‘‘ This is for everyone, for the nation,’’ she said. ‘‘After the tsunami, this brings everyone up. We are all united with one spirit.’’

The country came to a halt on the public holiday as the Royal Samoan Police Band led the team in a march down Apias main street. When the players performed their traditional war dance, the Siva Tau, in the grounds of the parliament, the whole country

seemed to reverberate.

The smiles on the faces of the locals gave reason for optimism about the future.

But a trip around the areas worst hit by the tsunami revealed that while the atmosphere is tranquil, a lot of painstaking work still needs to be done to help the locals get back on their feet.

As building work goes on, crosses stand as memorials to the victims among the upturned cars and debris from destroyed homes.

Aggie Grey, who works at the legendary Aggie Greys Hotel in Apia founded by her grandmother in 1934, said her country had a long way to go.

‘‘ But Samoan people are very resilient,’’ Grey said.

‘‘ Even after what had happened they got stuck in two days later and didnt wait around for the aid.’’

Grey said the teams win had lifted spirits.

‘‘ They are the talk of the town,’’ she said. ‘‘There is hope for the Samoan people now, especially for the young kids who want to be rugby players,’’ she said.

SOURCE: Rugby Central (dailytelegraph.com.au)

  25 June, 2010     

Summer Luxury Holiday Destinations – Samoa

Posted by Luxury Holiday Ideas Team in South Pacific

Last week, we featured the glorious destination of Bali as a perfect place for a luxury holiday in the summer.  This week, we’re heading to the beautiful South Pacific to visit the exclusive rare jewel of Samoa.

This gorgeous little country is made up of two large islands and eight small islands.  It’s relatively new to tourism, which virtually guarantees you won’t be swamped by tourists with the same intentions as you – taking advantage of the summer to holiday somewhere beautiful.

Since Samoa is relatively free of tourists, it only boasts a few luxury hotels to cater to them.  The country has a growing interest in tourism, though, so if you’re looking to head out in 2011 or even 2012, it’s highly likely you’ll find a wider selection.  For now, though, Samoa’s offerings are enough to satisfy even the most demanding of travellers.

Visitors after luxury are most often housed in a fale, Samoa’s traditional villa-style house updated to match contemporary standards.  Fales are traditionally open to the world during the day, but yours will be modified to let in the sea air without disrupting your privacy.  At Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa, for example, your fale can open out onto the beach, two woven doors open to let in bright sunshine and the soft sound of waves crashing against the shore.
 

You’ll also be able to visit native villages and view this traditional architecture in its natural setting.   Marvel at the smiling faces and welcoming culture of the native Samoans as they generously make a space for you in their ceremonies and even homes.

Samoa’s islands are truly beautiful.  You could easily spend your time there just soaking in all the sights, lounging by the beach with a glass of wine in hand.  For many who rush around all year living the corporate lifestyle, such a reprieve sounds like the perfect summer paradise.  Relax under a palm tree in a private hammock, watching seagulls play in the air or reading that book you’ve always meant to get to.  Sounds just like where we’d like to spend our holiday time this summer.

Samoa has plenty to offer for the more active citizens of the world, of course.  The main island, Upolu, houses the biggest city, Apia.  Most resorts and sights are located right here, with Apia’s markets clamouring for attention with the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.  These islands are so stunning that such a master of prose chose to use them as settings for his novels.  If you’re interested in history or literature, you’ll love visiting his mansion and viewing the little things he left behind.  Stevenson was a critic of colonialism in Samoa and lent his voice to arguing on behalf of the natives.  His grave is also located on the island and undoubtedly will become a popular spot for those who enjoy literature as tourism grows in Samoa.

All the usual watersports are available for swimmers, such as scuba diving and snorkelling.  You can play tennis on the beach or enjoy a massage at one of the spas.  Heading out for exploration is encouraged, indeed, required, especially on Savai’i, Samoa’s largest island and just an hour’s ferry away from Upolu.  Savai’i’s rugged island beauty will astonish you with rainforest, volcanic peaks, and lava fields.  You will truly feel that you’ve stepped onto a film set, but the best part is that you’ll be experiencing it all for yourself.  If you’re okay with rougher accommodation, you can stay overnight and imagine yourselves explorers in an unknown and unfamiliar land.

Samoa is an island nation full of mysteries, delights, and sunshine; perfect for your summer holidays.  Book now to get in on the fun for summer 2010.
  22 June, 2010     

Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia - Samoa

Samoa welcomes a new addition to its hotels list with the opening of the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia.  Part of the Tanoa Hotel Group, the hotel is scheduled to open on July 1.
 
Tanoa Hotel Group Chairman, Mr Y P Reddy acknowledged the challenges in the past year but remarked “as promised we would successfully weather the storm and are now, thanks to the hard work and diligence of  all those involved in this project in Samoa, in Fiji and in New Zealand, I am delighted to announce that we will be open for service on July 1st  2010.”
 
While certain areas of the hotel and the conference centre will not be completed by this time and construction will be ongoing, the group has promised that “no disruption is anticipated to our guest’s enjoyment and their overall experience as a result of the ongoing work.”
 
The Tanoa Tusitala Hotel once completed will be one of the accommodation highlights of Apia and will bring a great product offering especially for the MICE market. Designwise, the new Reception Fale may prove to be a great interest to some, highlighting first hand the work of skilled Samoan craftsmen in the construction and decoration of the structure.
 
Mr Reddy added that ‘Whilst the ‘re-opening chapter’ has been completed in spite of the many challenges we faced , the next chapter is undoubtedly the most critical as the operational team strive to consistently deliver the style of service and guest experience which we believe this hotel is capable of. Our philosophy, as a company, is to work tirelessly in the development of skilled personnel from the country in which we operate. Samoa is no different and I will take great personal interest in seeing how our talented Samoan team seize this great opportunity.’
 
- Ends -
 
Please contact Miss Kalpana Reddy at kalpana@reddygroup.co.nz for further information and on our web site www.tanoahotels.com.   18 June, 2010     

Samoa makes Pacific Pulse News...AGAIN!!

The Samoa team at the 2010 Expo Shanghai China has had a lot of help from Pacific Pulse in helping to promote the great job the team is doing for Samoa at the Expo to the outside world.

The Pacific Pulse is the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Online News Circular. It has extensively featured the Samoa Team and Booth in its Expo News.
This week's issue gives a brief look at the members that make up the Private Sector part of the combined Samoa Team.

Following is the excerpt from Pacific Pulse for this week:

Taking a Break
Private sector representatives of the popular Samoa booth Patricia Kolhase and Litia Hudspeth take a coffee break in front of the Pacific Pavilion during their shift. Samoa's honey has become popular with the visitors to the Pavilion as well as the coconut soap and oil. The ladies are monitoring sales at the Pavilion of retail items from Samoa and advising the business sector back home of that best to send to China for sale at the Pacific  Pavilion.

  18 June, 2010     

STA's New Australia Market Representative Brings Home Its Message

Samoa Tourism Authority's new Australia Market Representative, AdPar Avion of Sydney has truly brought home their dedication to boost Australian tourism travel to Samoa, by literally...bringing it home.

Reprpesentatives from the newly appointed Market Representative agency flew to Samoa this week to present to the local tourism industry how the Samoa Tourism Authority will 'go all out' to bring the Austalian Tourists to Samoa's sandy shores.

With a 'FaaSAMOA, it's our way' approach, STA Australia encourages teamwork with the local industry to achieve the strategies it will put in place.

Michael Riddington from the STA Australia team puts it simply: "we are going to make people want to come to (to Samoa) because it stands for something more."

Awareness is the key and STA believes that the more that people are aware of the destinaton and is the key features, the more those people will make informed decisions to visit Samoa.

With the combined ability to offer expert advice on destination representation, pitch competitive sales and marketing, inform media and maintain good public relations, provide research and creative development, the team is confident it will be able to reach if not exceed its self set target in increasing Australia's outbound tourism to Samoa.

Michael Riddington (Trade & Marketing), Adele Leathan (Trade & Marketing) and Peter Sereno (PR/Media/Events & Meetings) from the STA Australia team were in Apia as part of the Authority's plans to ultimately to take Samoa's destination marketing efforts in Australia to the next level.

  16 June, 2010     

Samoa Recovery

Kiwi travel demand for Samoa is again on the up, with some Samoa suppliers reporting 70 - 75% increases in forward bookings, against the first quarter figures, says the Samoa Tourism Authority's Fasitau Ula.

"It's looking pretty good again - we did experience a lull in demand (post tsunami), but that was to be expected, " he says.

Ula says feedback from suppliers has been positive following recent marketing campaigns, the re-opening of some key properties and support from Kiwis keen to contribute to the country's recovery after last year's tsunami.

Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, which re-opened last month with new fales, re-built and extended ocean view and presidential fales, an ocean view spa and a brand-new over-water restaurant is one of the key properties to re-open, says Ula. And after a raft of difficulties, not least the tsunami and a fire that all but destroyed months of work, Apia's Tanoa Tusitala Hotel is set for re-opening on 1 July, he adds.

The word from wholesalers is that the recovery has started to 'kick in' well, ahead of the winter peak. "Samoa Tourism is really active now, and it's all back to normal," said one.

Ula agrees, saying that the NTO is 'releasing and planning campaigns' with key wholesalers right up to Sep.

Wholesalers says that interest from the Kiwi market is picking up, in part, because people recognise that going for a holiday will help in the country's economic recovery. "They know what's happened there and want to put something back into Samoa," said a wholesaler. "We still see it as a desirable destination and we'll be giving it a push along where we can," said another.

Source: Travel Today; Tuesday 15 June 2010

  15 June, 2010     

Samoa bout to party!!!

2010 Samoa International Jazz and Blues Festival, Nov 12th - 14th 2010.
 
The beautiful Island nation of Samoa will be the backdrop to world class Jazz, Blues and Soul music over 3 days in November in a range of venues across Upolu Island.
 
The musicians performing at the festival will include artists from New Zealand, Australia, England, and the United States and of course from Samoa itself.
 
Among the international artists included are renown musicians, Edna Love (San Fran Queen of Blues & Soul), Billy TK Jnr (Kiwi guitar hero), Tony Painting (UK blues guitarist), Phil Broadhurst (Internationally renown Jazz pianist), LA crooner, Diana Harris, Jazz Quartet Carolina Moon, Blues Rockers Brilleaux and a total of 20 bands!!
 
The Minister of Samoa Tourism Hon: Misa Telefoni comments 'This event is a first for Samoa and we are proud to welcome world class musicians and guests to our island paradise for the festival'.
 
Festival Director Billy Te Kahika also comments 'Samoa is the perfect place to hold a festival like this, I am excited about the musicians coming and the beautiful destination that will host our festival guests - its an amazing place and project'
 
The festival venues will all be running entertainment concurrently and there will be festival buses that will transfer guests between venues. Helping you get there will be special packages to Samoa with tickets!
 
Promotional campaigns in New Zealand, Australia and further afield will make sure the world will hear about the 2010 Samoa International Jazz and Blues Festival.   

So make sure that you book yourself some 'free' time to come and enjoy 'Music for the Soul In The Heart of Paradise'.
 
Media Enquiries:
Billy TK jnr Limited
Mob: +6421 138 7005 Ph-Fax: +649 534 2020
www.samoajbfest.org
www.samoa.travel   12 June, 2010     

Samoa Booth at Shanghai Expo Welcomes Its 1 Millionth Visitor

Samoa has welcomed to its Booth in the Pacific Pavillion at the Expo 2010 Shanghai China, its one millionth visitor. According to reports from the Samoa Team in China, the number of visitors to the Samoa booth had increased beyond expectation and on Friday 04th June 2010, the 1 millionth visitor was excitedly welcomed in by the Team showering the lucky individual with various gifts.   10 June, 2010     

Pacific Police Women Meet

The way forward for the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Women’s Advisory Network (PICP –WAN) is for everyone to work together. This is the belief of the Chief Inspector of the Papua New Guinea Police who was named the new chair of the network, yesterday.

Joanne Clarkson, a single mother of two boys, said the network will be faced with many challenges. “There is a few things we need to do this year and it takes considerate effort of the network for it to happen,” she said. Ms Clarkson called on 21 member countries present in Samoa for the 7th Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police Women’s Advisory Network meeting to “come together and work together.”

“The biggest challenge is to focus on the strategic plan and this is the road map to improving the way things are done,” Ms Clarkson said.

Ms Clarkson said she was honored to be elected.

Sharing experiences is one of the important activities in order for the members of the network to understand their purpose and drive.

Former chair, Sergeant Siripa Uelese-Tuafale said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve. She thanked everyone who supported her. “Be the hope to shine where there is darkness for all the women in policing,” she said.

Mrs. Tuafale said the conference will be hosted next year in PNG. The three-day conference’s theme is ethics and integrity.

Source: Samoa Observer (www.samoaobserver.ws)

  05 June, 2010     

Home at Last!

Our World Champions are home at last. The Manu Samoa Sevens team arrived to a rapturous reception at Faleolo International Airport this morning, where between 4,000 and 5,000 fans eagerly waited. Coach Stephen Betham, captain Lolo Lui and their victorious team brought home the IRB World Sevens crown, signifying they are the best in the world. For the fourth time this year, they brought home the goods. This time, it was the Edinburgh Sevens crown, the title they sorely needed to win to secure Samoa’s first ever world title. And a stunning performance in Scotland last weekend nailed it.

“We are completely overwhelmed by the support and the welcome from our people,” Manager Tausa Faamaoni Lalomilo told the Weekend Observer. “We were overwhelmed by the welcome in Auckland. There was so much support from our people there. Now we’ve arrived to this welcome in Samoa and it’s much more overwhelming.

“The solidarity among our people to welcome us has been really humbling. We are extremely grateful.” Tausa said the challenge for the players is to survive the next few days as Samoans look to shower their heroes with reception after reception. “It’s going to be tough but enjoyable I’m sure,” said the Manager.

Upon arrival at Faleolo, the team was ushered to the Multipurpose Lounge where a church service was held. Prime Minister and Chairman of the Samoa Rugby Union, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was among a host of officials present to welcome the team. From there, the players boarded a bus where they were transported to Apia.

People of all ages lined the streets just to catch a glimpse of the boys. Despite the ungodly hour, villages along the road to the airport rolled out the red carpet welcome. The bus regularly stopped in villages for players to greet their supporters.

The procession to Apia was long. For example, when the bus transporting the players reached Leulumoega, some vehicles were still struggling to move from the airport. But the long queue did not matter. Many people were prepared to wait. A good number of them celebrated well into daylight today.

Source: Samoa Observer (www.samoaobserver.ws)

  04 June, 2010     

Public Holiday Declared for Sevens Achievement

Cabinet has approved a public holiday to be preserved on Monday 7th June to celebrate our World Champions and their achievement.

Coach Betham and his teamare set to arrive into the country on Saturday at 0100hrs. The team will then taken be taken to the Multi purpose Fale and then escorted by police after to the Rugby Union Headquarters at Malifa

The programme for Monday starts at 9.30am at Tiafau Mulinuu.