New TIDES and a new Miss Samoa were making new waves in Samoa last night.
Samoa welcomed to its shores a flood of delegates attending the very first Tourism Investment for the Development of Enterprise and Sustainability (TIDES) Samoa Programme that began yesterday, Wednesday 17th February 2010 at the Aggie Greys Lagoon Beach Resort & Spa.
In a wave of support at the TIDES Samoa Official Opening yesterday evening, the more than 150 participants from around the globe and the local tourism sector warmly welcomed Tavalea Nilon as she made her first appearance as Miss Samoa.
Great news for a new beginning, the TIDES Event has definitely kicked off to an exhilarating start.
“TIDES is the starting point for driving tourism in Samoa and the Pacific,” emphasized Greg Duffell, Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Chief Executive Officer in his Opening Address, after calling for a moment of silence for the victims of the Sept 09 tsunami that struck Samoa and neighbouring islands.
One focal point to be taken away from this ‘critical and strategic conference for Samoa, the Pacific and the entire region’, as pointed out by Duffell, is the ability to ‘understand the unique beauty of the islands and understanding the unique products they can provide’ to the outside world.
The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff feels that to be able to give visitors something unique and of value, the Pacific Island Nations need to give more of themselves.
“We must have a passionate love affair with the country, because if we’re not passionate about our own country, we can’t be passionate about selling the South Pacific, and we’re not going to be able to get to people to want to come and visit.”
Such passion is what has been the deciding factor for Tavalea Nilon who has opted to defer her academic studies and take on the role of Miss Samoa.
“This is my home…this is my country… I want to be able to give something back. I’m excited, I’m challenged…I believe I can be a good Ambassador of Samoa as Miss Samoa.’
Is she perturbed by the events leading up to her taking on the Miss Samoa role?
“That was before my time…my focus is now…I am honored to be given this once in a lifetime opportunity at this particular moment and with the support of my family, friends and our people, I will strive to make my country proud.”
Such feelings of pride and unity in the Pacific region of what each island nation has to promote to foreign investors will be echoed throughout the next two days as the TIDES conference sessions and exhibitions continue.
The TIDES will conclude at the Official Closing tomorrow, Friday 19th February 2010 with Miss Samoa, Tavalea Nilon etching in the minds of the overseas delegates a brief but lasting imprint of Samoa as she performs the ‘taualuga’ bidding them farewell as they leave Samoa’s shores.