With the help of Samoa Tourism Authority’s Travel Ready Toolkit, there are plenty of steps you can take to create a COVID-safe environment for your customers, staff, and surrounding communities. Above all, operators who can offer plenty of guidance and reassurance will be vital to Samoa’s effort to reopen to tourism safely and confidently.

Find every way to engage and communicate with people

With the tourism landscape expected to look a little different to pre-COVID-19 times when borders reopen, engaging with your staff and customers will help to keep everyone informed and cooperative. Useful signage around your facilities, such as outlining social distancing, capacity restrictions, or even mask-wearing rules in restaurants, bars, vehicles, or other communal areas, should always be prominently placed. With national rules and restrictions likely to be subject to ongoing change, the Samoa Tourism Authority will always be on hand to help operators understand and navigate the required protocols at any given time. 

You could also connect with customers on a deeper and more personal level, whether it be through your social channels, website or via eDMs. Consider using these touchpoints to start conversations with your guests before they arrive and right throughout their stay. For example, you might share communications about what their post-pandemic experience with your product might look like, as well as any key protocols they’ll be expected to follow. You can also use these channels to check in on your customers’ welfare and offer health and safety alerts or updates during or after their experience.


Raise awareness and encourage the use of Samoa’s Travel Tracer app

Samoa’s contact tracing app has been developed as part of a joint initiative with the Samoa Tourism Authority and Ministry of Health. The app is designed to help identify positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts to stop potential spread. But for the app to work to our nation’s best advantage, everyone in Samoa, including short-term visitors, will need to download and activate the app from the moment they arrive. Operators should take every opportunity to check customers are using the app as well as provide guidance on how it can be downloaded and used through clear communications and signage.


Get your hygiene practices in place  

Thorough cleaning routines among Samoa’s tourism operators will be critical to minimising any spread of infection – especially in environments where groups of people mix and share facilities and equipment. Samoa Tourism Authority is offering Health, Safety and Disinfectant training for COVID-19 as part of our Travel Ready Toolkit because operators will need to know where to focus their efforts and plan accordingly. 

Any hire or sports equipment relevant to your product should be cleaned and sanitised after every use. Around buildings and facilities – door handles, rails, loungers and other frequently touched items should be regularly cleaned throughout the day. High-traffic areas, such as pool areas, fales, vehicles, and dining spaces should also be subject to more frequent cleaning schedules. 

You might even consider whether some changes to service options will be more appropriate in the circumstances, such as offering table service in bars and restaurants as an alternative to buffets and bar service. And of course, operators should do everything they can to help people protect themselves, such as providing PPE to cleaning staff entering rooms and ensuring hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes are widely available for customer use.


Encouraging contactless payments

Facilitating transactions is an everyday part of running a business in Samoa’s tourism sector, whether related to food and drink or taking bookings for tours and other activities. Offering an alternative to cash payments, such as accepting contactless card payments, could be an easy win to give your customers peace of mind while doing everything you can to minimise unnecessary contacts between your staff and customers.


Support social distancing

The COVID-19 Operations Plan set out by the Samoa National Emergency Operations Centre stipulates that two-metres social distancing should be enforced at all times. Before the arrival of guests or customers, you’ll need to plan for what impact this might have on your everyday operations to ensure you’ll be prepared to run your business safely and compliantly. 

For example, setting up to take bookings instead of relying on casual walk-ins might help to minimise queues while making it easier to manage the space in your venue for social distancing. In the case of group tours, you could consider running smaller group tours which are shorter but more frequent to minimise overcrowding in destinations or on vehicles. Seating plans in dining areas, bars, and reception areas should also be configured to keep parties a safe distance apart. Encouraging the use of masks in certain scenarios can also contribute to more COVID-safe environments.


Managing illness

While it’s not expected that every case of illness among your staff or customers will be related to COVID-19, anyone feeling unwell in the post-COVID-19 travel environment must be dealt with sensibly to manage risk. Staff must always stay home and follow the government protocols around testing and isolation if they start to feel unwell. At the same time, while services and tour operators should politely decline entry to customers who are feeling unwell, accommodation providers must develop an action plan for how to handle illness among guests whether this is self-reported or identified by authorities as a result of Samoa’s Travel Tracer app. Educating staff and guests around the steps to take in relation to isolation, reporting, testing, and providing assurances that people’s welfare will be looked after will be crucial. 

Samoa’s tourism sector is looking forward to reawakening after the pandemic. While we’ve got what it takes to offer our visitors amazing experiences and kickstart our economy as soon as borders reopen, all our operators will need to work together to create a ‘new normal’ safe environment for all Samoans.