28 January, 2016

Samoa raises the goal posts with help from the All Blacks

Samoa raises the goal posts with help from the All Blacks

Travelinc Memo, 28 January

On the back of a 15% hike in tourism numbers last year aided by the July All Blacks test against Samoa in Apia, the country’s newest hotel has announced it’s taking former Kiwi rugby great Michael Jones under its wing as brand ambassador.

Laura Wadsworth, representing the $60 million Taumeasina Island Resort opening in Apia on 1 June, told a Samoan tourism industry luncheon this week that Jones, a village chief, was taking up the position on 1 February, happy at a chance to provide a boost for the country.

Meanwhile, Samoan Tourism Authority marketing and promotions manager Dwayne Bentley says the boutique 104-room resort was exactly the type of hotel the country had in mind as it moves towards becoming a premier-class destination.

This year’s opening of the four-star, around 170-room Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows and luxurious Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa were also steps in the right direction, he says.

A three-year upgrade of the main gateway, Faleolo International Airport, will also ‘take Samoa to the next level’ Bentley adds. The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi is on board, launching the Samoa Tourism Excellence Awards, which take place in January next year.

While Bentley says Samoan tourism will be driven by targeting families and couples, events – such as Joseph Parker’s winning boxing match last week – were a huge part of its growth strategy.

Samoa last year drew 137,000 guests, and Bentley is confident the country will enjoy at least a minimum 5% growth this year. Kiwis – who represent 46% of the visitor numbers – would also be a target, and New Zealanders can expect to be hearing a lot more from the country this year, he says.

Attending the 30-strong function, Air New Zealand’s product and pricing specialist Hylda Bloomfield says the market continues to grow at a nice pace. ‘We are not seeing a decline after the All Black test. Samoa continues to get better and it continues to want to do better too, which helps us as an airline. It makes our work easier.’

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Photo credit - Penina Momoisea