24 October, 2009

Samoa ready for business, deputy PM

Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni has called on Australian holidaymakers to not abandon the tsunami-hit South Pacific country.

Mr Telefoni said last month's tsunami, triggered by an earthquake, has scared tourists away.
"Ninety per cent of our infrastructure, resorts, hotel rooms and all the different beaches we have were not affected (by the tsunami)," Mr Telefoni told reporters in Brisbane on Saturday.
"What the industry did, which I think is very commendable, is let everybody know that there would be no penalties for cancelling flights or bookings, which about 50 per cent did (cancel holiday bookings)."

Mr Telefoni said cancellations were decreasing. "I want to let people know it's still a great place to holiday," he said. "We are very welcoming people. We are Polynesians and the beauty and beaches of Samoa are still there for everyone."

He said tourism was a major industry in Samoa which employed many unskilled workers.
More than 140 people were killed when an 8.3 magnitude earthquake sent tsunami waves smashing into the coast of Samoa on September 29.

Mr Telefoni was in Brisbane for a two-day forum about a new trade and economic agreement among Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island nations.

SOURCE: The Age © 2009 AAP