30 March, 2012     

Australian Agents Shape Samoa’s Tourism Future

Twenty of Australia’s top product managers and senior agents recently returned from the Fa’a Samoa Roadshow in Samoa.

They were joined by their contemporaries from New Zealand and Europe.

The roadshow opened with a ceremonial welcome that consisted of traditional songs and dancing as well as the spectacular Siva Afi or Fire Knife dance as well as a Tatau (tattoo) demonstration from the locals at the Samoa Tourism Authority fale.

Opening the roadshow with his speech, The Hon Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi shared his futuristic vision of the tourism industry in Samoa, stressing the importance for tourism operators to embrace new technology and to ride the wave of the future with his message of working "on target, online and on time."

Agents then moved on to the newly opened Conference Centre for the Fa’a Samoa Roadshow where the Australians met the property managers and tourism operators to discuss current contracts and sign up new ones.

Attendees received property updates, were introduced to new properties and accommodation options and met with property managers both on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i.

Attendees received property updates, were introduced to new properties and accommodation options and met with property managers both on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i.   A total of 30 tourism operators were on show, from waterfront resorts to the traditional Samoan fales dotted along the coast as well as car rental companies and in-bound tourist operators.

Adele Leathan, from Samoa Tourism Authority Australia says that while Samoa has much to offer all markets, a focused approach on niches is the easiest way to get visitor numbers up in a short period of time.

“We wanted to empower our agents and product managers with the necessary tools to sell Samoa – that our island home is more than just a ‘flop and drop’ destination.

“Our agents saw firsthand Samoa’s newly opened Conference Centre in Apia for the MICE market, the state of the art sporting facilities ideal for training tours, experienced fishing and diving tours, inspected amenities for water sports,golf as well as picture perfect locations for weddings and honeymoons,” says Adele.

The agents also experienced the various nature related activities that Samoa has to offer.

“We took them to the Papasee’a Sliding Rocks, the picturesque To Sua Trench and the magnificent Taga Blowholes in Savaii.  We also took the agents to go swimming with the turtles – and I can guarantee that all our guests will be going home with memories to last a lifetime and hopefully some fire in their bellies to sell Samoa to their clients” says Adele.
  27 March, 2012     

New resort for Samoa

Still under construction on the Eastern side of Upolu, at Lalomanu, is luxury property Aga Reef Resort. Featuring 19 rooms in four categories: Waterfront Villas, Island Units, hotel suites and a VIP Suite, Aga Reef Resort will also have an infinity pool, dining for 60 in the water view restaurant and a 30 seat conference room. Expected opening date is July this year. Managing director, Apete Meredith (pictured at Samoa Tourism Exchange), has acted on his father’s dreams to build a high end resort on the family land.

Source: Promag
  24 March, 2012     

Good manners and an adventurous spirit make for great holiday in Samoa

By John Bilic

Lauiula Beach Fales, on Savaii, offer mattresses, communal facilities and a reef just metres away. Right: Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where the Scottish author lived his final years.

Lauiula Beach Fales, on Savaii, offer mattresses, communal facilities and a reef just metres away. Right: Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where the Scottish author lived his final years.

TO get the most out of your holiday to Samoa, take your spirit of adventure.

Resorts, some rebuilt after a devastating tsunami in 2009, are waiting to pamper you in their beachside spas, but also get out and about for a richer experience.

Some people who lament the decline of good manners in modern society might find the gracious people, who answer every thank you with a “you’re welcome”, as reason enough to flock to the Pacific Island nation.

Once there, how about a hike up the mountain trail from Robert Louis Stevenson Museum to see the tomb of the famous Scottish author, climb the rainforest canopy walkway or descend a 10m ladder to swim in a fresh water trench.

Surfers searching for a perfect, uncrowded wave already have Samoa on their travel plans and can arrange for a boat to take them beyond the reef.

And most definitely experience genuine Samoan hospitality by spending a night or two on a beach in a fale.

Fales (pronounced “far-lays”) are a dominant part of Samoan culture. They have no walls, just a roof, held up by sturdy poles, and a floor.

Travelling around Samoa, we saw village fales used for some classrooms, community gatherings, church groups, housing, shelter for washing and even over graves.

Some fale resorts offer accommodation with ensuites, others have communal facilities.

Some have beds, others provide a mattress on the floor, with sheets and pillows (bring a towel). All have mosquito nets which only add to the feeling of adventure. But it is so much fun and pretty cheap with dinner and breakfast often included in the charge.

Wake up each morning, stumble a metre, plunge into the warm Pacific and watch the sun rise. Swim a metre or two in crystal clear water and you’re over the reef - perfect for snorkelling - which shelters the islands from the Pacific.

The postcard-perfect islands of Samoa are a five-hour flight northeast from Sydney with Virgin Samoa.

The archipelago, consisting of 10 islands, has a definite still-waiting-to-be-discovered feel of a destination which hasn’t quite fallen to the tourist hordes.

Our tour started with a dip at the scenic Togitogiga waterfalls, and ended with a leap from a jetty at the Sinalei Reef Resort where a fresh water spring gushes into the Pacific.

On Savaii we had the chance to swim with turtles, cool off in a village sea pool, splash about in Afu Aau waterfalls and body surf on white sand beaches.

Samoa has been the location for three series of US reality show Survivor.

CAN-DO ATTITUDE INFECTIOUS
* The developing nation of Samoa has a can-do attitude.
* Samoa made world headlines at the end of 2011 when it moved the international dateline permanently moving clocks 60 minutes forward so it is now a friendly few hours ahead of * Sydney, rather than being almost a day behind us.
* In 2009 the nation changed traffic conditions overnight, moving from driving on the right side of the road to the left, like Pacific neighbours Australia and New Zealand.
* The power supply is the same as in Sydney, no need for an adaptor, just plug in your iPad, smartphone and digital camera chargers.
* An Australian dollar buys about 2.4 tala, making it a trip worth considering by the budget conscious. A stubby of the most agreeable local beer, Vailima, costs 6 tala.

Source: Northern District Times
  18 March, 2012     

UB40 to celebrate Samoa's 50th Independence

World famous British reggae group, UB40, is coming to Samoa.  Henry Wulf, the man behind the much-anticipated concert in June, says the confirmation of the group’s visit is fantastic news for fans here, especially on a milestone year such as our 50th Independence celebration.

“It was always my intention to bring UB40 to Samoa to perform for our 50th Independence celebrations this year,” says Mr Wulf, Owner of Pure Reggae.

“They have been my favourite band since as long as I can remember so it is a dream come true to be a part of this.” He admits that it has been a challenge trying to establish connections and convince the group to visit Samoa.

But Mr Wulf says he couldn’t have done it without the support of BlueSky Samoa and the 50th Independence Celebrations Committee.

Like Mr Wulf, Chairman of the Committee, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, says the UB40 is his personal favourite.  “I know that a lot of Samoan couples met and danced to the sounds of UB40,” says the Minister of Women, Community and Social Development. The band, Tolofua says, will only add to the festive mood and celebrations during Samoa’s Independence.

BlueSky CEO, Adolfo Montenegro says BlueSky is happy to be involved in hosting the band’s first concert in Samoa. “UB40’s music has been popular with our people throughout the years so Bluesky is proud to play a significant role in making it happen.”

The concert will be one of the first official events of the 50th Independence celebrations for Samoa. It will take place on 1 June at Apia Park and tickets are now on sale from BlueSky retail stores for $30.

For local musician, Mailo Ben Vai, this is going to be a groundbreaking event. “For most of us local musicians, UB40 have been outstanding heroes for our careers and they are a band that we all try to emulate through our music.”

He hopes Samoan musicians will make the most of the opportunity and be inspired. “This is a band that started from scratch,” he says. “UB40 actually stands for Unemployment Benefit, form 40 which they had to fill in to get their unemployment benefits.”

Mr Wulf is adamant he will try and bring more world-class musicians and entertainers to perform in Samoa. “This is something I am really passionate about; establishing this entertainment business in Samoa and hosting international artists so their Samoan fan base can get to see them live.”

Mr Wulf has already brought over Corner Stone Roots and singers King Kapisi and Che Fu.  So which famous band will Mr Wulf bring next? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Source: Samoa Observer
  12 March, 2012     

Zita's Simply Oarsome

By Shirley Sinclair

SOMETIMES the best man for the job is a woman. And that certainly applies to Samoan long boat racing where Zita Martel rules the ocean.

The director of inbound tourism operator Polynesian Xplorer and matai (chief) is a human dynamo in business, church and village life but the male-dominated sport is her passion.

"It's an absolute passion - an addiction," she said in the lead-up to the annual Teuila Festival Fautasi Challenge last September.

The fit-looking 50-year-old remains the only woman in the sport - the rose among the thorns - but her record speaks for itself.

"I'm the pain in the side of all the skippers," she said.


And only a fool would take the first and only female long boat captain in Samoa lightly.

The wife and mother of four boys, who is also honorary consul of France for Samoa, came into the sport by accident.

Her church in Siusega village on Upolu Island had built a boat but had no skipper and was floundering.

Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi - chairman of Zita's church and now Samoan Prime Minister - nominated her, she thought, as a joke because it is a traditional sport for men.

Sure, she had rowed while a student in New Zealand's Canterbury University where she met her husband Francois 27 years ago.

She had even tried her hand at outrigger canoeing, windsurfing and sailing in New Zealand and the Caribbean. But this was completely different.

She had never set foot in a long boat but you get the feeling she has never backed away from a challenge. And this was no different.

As skipper, her job is to stand and steer at the stern, with the drummer sitting at the bow at eye level, setting the pace of the oar strokes according to her instructions throughout each race, which is like chess in strategy.

Up to 45 people, including the skipper, drummer and oarsmen can man the 90ft (27m) long boats which generally cover a five-mile (8km) course and can reach up to 12 knots.

Samoa takes its long boat racing seriously, hosting two races a year: The Independence Day race on June 1 and Teuila Festival race each September.

Up to 80 people in each village can train for two to three months in the lead-up to the races before a final crew is selected.

Perhaps Zita's proudest moment came in 2010 in Samoa - a challenge race with a longboat from American Samoa after she and her crew from Don Bosco Technical Centre won there in 2006.

Her timber boat, built in 2002 inside a church hall at a cost of about $A25,000, was up against a state-of-the-art, carbon-fibre boat at a cost of about US$350,000 and boasting sliding seats, pumps, and dagger board.

Despite heavy betting that the sleek American longboat would win the race in the flat waters of Apia's lagoon, Zita's wooden longboat still won against all odds.

The unmistakable bright green and yellow boat - the colours of the segavao bush bird found around her village - was the one to beat at the 2011 Teuila Festival.

As it turned out, Zita was unable to compete as the race clashed with the Pacific Games being held in New Caledonia, where she was competing as a compound archer and came home with one gold and one bronze medal.

For the first time, the Teuila Festival race was to include a turn and in the end, the Digicel Segavao II Don Bosco longboat was put on the rocks at Mulinu'u Peninsula by another longboat and couldn't finish the race. Savaii came from behind in a thrilling finish to win the day from the eight teams competing and the 22,000 tala ($A9300) prizemoney.

But I'm willing to bet that won't be the last anyone hears of Zita Martel: longboat captain extraordinaire.


Good to Know
Three airlines fly to Samoa weekly out of Brisbane and Sydney: Air Pacific, Air New Zealand and Virgin Samoa.

See your travel agent for details.

Up to 80 people in each village can train for up to two months in the lead-up to the races before a final crew is selected.

Source: Fraser Coast Chronicle
Image Credit: www.bbco.uk
  02 March, 2012     

Samoa Celebrates the Origin of the Tattoo - Hosts the 5th International Samoa Tatau Festival

Samoa, an island nation located at the heart of the South Pacific is a traditional society and is widely known as the most authentic of all the Polynesian cultures.  A 3,000 year old tradition called Fa’a Samoa (The Samoan Way) is the essence of the Samoan culture and is found nowhere else in the world.

One of the most important features of this culture is the Tatau, a rite of passage that represents the spiritual and cultural heritage of Samoa and is a mark of one’s personal and spiritual maturity and commitment to Fa’a Samoa.

A tradition that is unbroken for thousands of years this art has survived and has spread the world over and is now considered one of the finest traditional art forms.  Many believe that Samoa is the ancestral home of the tattoo, with some experts claiming that the modern word tattoo is derived from ‘Tatau’.

Samoa celebrates this important cultural treasure and will be hosting the 5th annual International Tatau Festival at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.  The Festival will run from 31 May to 2 June, in time for the 50th anniversary of Samoan Independence.

The Pe’a is the male tattoo which covers a wide area of the mid section of the body from the waist to the knees.  The female version, called the Malu covers the legs from just below the knee to the upper thighs.

A master tattooist using handmade tools of bone, tusks, turtle shell and wood and can take weeks, sometimes months to complete.  This process is only done the traditional way with the subject lying on mats on the floor and once completed the pe’a and the malu are viewed with cultural pride and identity as well as a mark of manhood and womanhood.

The Samoa Tourism Authority is excited to welcome back the festival to its home ground.  “Samoa is known by many as the origin of the tattoo and is such an important element in our heritage and culture.  We cannot wait to share with and educate the world its beauty, origins and significance and we welcome you to come join us to celebrate this important aspect of our culture”.

The Festival’s theme is “From Roots to Rebirth: Celebrating the Art” and will showcase the works of Samoan master tattooists from around the world as well as live demonstrations of this age-old art.

For more information and images please go to www.samoa.travel