As we anticipate the return of travel, advisors in the travel trade will be eager to find out what’s changed since they last booked a Samoan escape in 2019 – and how to go about planning and booking their next Samoan adventure once enquiries start to pick up.

How to book a Samoan escape

Before the pandemic, there were around 20 key sellers in Australia selling travel experiences in Samoa and 24 in New Zealand, with some of the biggest including Helloworld, Qantas Holidays, Air New Zealand, Viva, and Infinity Holidays. Just like the rest of the travel industry, most have experienced a significant reduction in resources but having turned their focus to domestic markets to survive the pandemic, we expect to see them bounce back as soon as international travel returns. 

One of our top priorities at the Samoa Tourism Authority is making sure our partners are always up to date with the latest destination information here in Samoa including any upcoming developments or changes with key operators or travel and border rules. With this approach, you can be sure all key partners will be ready to start selling Samoan experiences at the earliest possible time.  

While much of the airlift into Samoa is currently on hold, the Samoa Tourism Authority is also continuing to engage with the main airlines that operated in Samoa pre-pandemic, so Samoa’s international connections are rapidly restored as borders reopen. Once travel to Samoa becomes possible again in the coming months, accessibility from the ANZ region will resume from major hubs such as Auckland, Sydney, and Brisbane. 

The latest on resorts and experiences in Samoa   

Samoa’s Specialist Site is designed by the Samoa Tourism Authority to help advisors in the travel trade sell Samoa. Using the site’s self-learning tools, you can learn all about the latest operator information, the top travel itineraries, and brush up on important destination knowledge to position yourself to customers as a trusted Samoa Specialist in the post-COVID world. 

In the lead up to the reopening of Samoa’s borders, the Samoa Specialist site will be a crucial resource for finding out about important developments in Samoa’s tourism sector, including the top resorts and experiences on offer, so you can promise your customers the best and most hassle-free post-pandemic travel experience.  

With travel and tourism essential to the national economy, Samoa remains home to huge range of accommodation experiences from global five-star luxury brands to family friendly resorts and the simpler, more budget-friendly Fale style beach accommodation. Popular activities range from fishing and diving adventures to cycling, hiking, scenic and cultural touring experiences. Samoa’s accommodation and experience operators are endeavouring to make sure their deals and packages are immediately bookable again through key retailers across Australia and New Zealand as soon as the green light to travel is announced.  

Over the coming months, the Samoa Tourism Authority will be continuing to work closely with both Samoa’s hotel and tour operators, so they’re well prepared for the arrival of their first guests. We’re also currently working with operators to enhance their visitor experiences and help them rebuild strong connections within the travel trade. You can easily stay up to date with all the activities and accommodation options available in Samoa through our directory on the Samoa Tourism Authority website

Key considerations when developing an itinerary post-COVID

Managing traveller expectations will feature heavily in the role of any travel advisor after the pandemic. While people who have been yearning for a trip overseas will be keen to forget the pandemic on their first escape, every popular tourist destination in the world, including Samoa, will be taking steps to ensure their tourism industries get back up and running again steadily, safely, and without undue risk. 

To make sure your customers get the most out of their visit to Samoa, it’ll be vital to keep on top of any local guidelines or restrictions, so you can prepare your customers before they depart and plan suitable itineraries around them. For example, there might be less scope for spontaneity and flexibility in the short-term because of caps on group numbers or capacity restrictions, which means a detailed daily plan of activities (and possibly dining options) secured by pre-bookings might be the way to go. For similar reasons, pre-organising transport or inspiring self-drive options could help visitors get more out of their experiences.  

With the situation around COVID-19 forever changing, we can’t know exactly what the landscape will look like in time, but it’s wise to keep a close eye on the destination and adapt your approach to building itineraries accordingly. 

Spotlight on VFR

An estimated 182,000 people who identify as having Samoan heritage live in New Zealand and more than 75,000 people of Samoan descent live in Australia – a huge number considering Samoa’s national population is around 200,000.  It goes without saying that as borders reopen, there’ll be an immediate surge in demand for travel to Samoa among people wanting to reunite with friends and family. 

With so much opportunity ahead in the VFR market, which is likely to account for a significant proportion of visitors in the initial stages, you’ll need to think carefully about how you might treat these bookings differently to other markets. For example, while relaxing on secluded beaches or yoga retreats might not be a top traveller intention, there might be plenty of scope to upsell breakaway trips that reacquaint VFR visitors with local food, scenery, and culture. Itineraries that are suitable for larger groups could also be more popular among VFR travellers, and will probably vary greatly from what you might create for singles, couples, or young families.   

Samoa’s tourism sector is getting ready to bounce back with as much excitement and vibrancy as before the pandemic. When international borders reopen in Samoa and across Australia and New Zealand, the Samoa Tourism Authority will be ready with all the know-how and latest insights on who’s coming first, what’s on offer and how to make it a reality for your customers.