After a long stretch without taking an overseas trip, visitors to Samoa will be looking for authentic cultural experiences which offer the opportunity to put the pandemic and those feelings of confinement behind them – finally. Within the Pacific region, Samoa is the perfect ‘long-haul’ holiday destination that’s not quite long haul but promises the same feelings of disconnect from home, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

Who will visit Samoa, why (and when)?

When Samoa’s borders reopen, there will be big opportunities for advisors and decision makers in the travel trade to promote Samoa as the perfect escape and organise travel arrangements across a broad spectrum of traveller markets. 

Visiting friends and relatives (VFR). In the immediate term, there’s likely to be an influx in demand for travel to Samoa within the VFR market as many people look to reunite with their families at the first opportunity. Motivations for travelling to Samoa might be different for visiting friends and relatives compared to first-time travellers, but travel advisors can easily create and sell itineraries that’ll suit their unique needs. Customers looking for accommodation options in convenient or practical locations as well as experiences that allow them to rediscover and connect with their second home could influence the type of products you sell.   

Active retirees. With older travellers likely to have been fully vaccinated for longer, they may have a more forward-thinking approach to planning travel earlier than other sectors of the market. With Samoa having been spared from the health impacts of the pandemic and with a high vaccination rate, older and potentially retired travellers will see Samoa as one of the safest and most reliable places to visit. In Samoa, they can choose to stay active or enjoy a range of guided tours and a slower pace of life than at home.             

Younger couples and singles. For younger couples who have felt that the past months have been all work and no play, Samoa represents the paradise escape they’ve long been dreaming of. A trip to Samoa is their chance to finally disconnect from the day-to-day on secluded beaches and participate in a blend of experiences – from the most relaxing and exhilarating activities to luxurious or culturally authentic accommodation. Target experiences might include yoga and meditation retreats, spa and wellbeing centres, staying in a beach fale, hiking, or some of the many sports and day trips Samoa is known for.    

Young adventurers. With its idyllic waterfalls, remote swimming holes, diving spots, volcanic peaks, perfect surfing conditions, bars, restaurants, and fun-filled Fia Fia nights, Samoa ticks all boxes for sociable young adventure travellers. These are enthusiastic entertainment-driven travellers who will be looking for their chance to break away, whether it be for their first ‘rite of passage’ overseas adventure or to meet and have fun with other friends and couples.


What changes can we expect to see in traveller behaviour and expectations?

Trust and confidence. Once international travel becomes a reality again in our region, consumers will seek comfort in destinations like Samoa that have experienced minimal impact from COVID-19. But the unprecedented events of the past few months and all the change and unpredictability that has come with it, have highlighted to consumers how important it is to have complete trust and confidence in their travel advice and arrangements – from beginning to end. With travel expected to look a little different after the pandemic compared to what consumers knew beforehand, at least in the short-term, consumers will want to engage with sources that know Samoa well and are up to date with the right information to prepare them and assist with unforeseen events. 

For example, post-pandemic travellers will be looking for assurances around entry requirements including eligibility for adults and children, guidance on current COVID-19 protocols, what they should do in an outbreak, and importantly, what their Samoan escape will look like when it comes to the activities on offer, dining options, and practicalities like pre-booking requirements. With COVID-19 restrictions having impacted consumers’ appetite for spontaneity, creating or inspiring well-organised end-to-end itineraries for your target customer will be an important part of a travel advisor’s role.    

In tune with the fine print. Aside from key destination knowledge and all-round great organisation, travellers thinking about a Samoan escape in a post-pandemic world are probably going to dig deeper into operator policies than they might have done before. In other words, potential refund options in certain scenarios and the flexibilities offered by operators around unforeseen events could all play an important part in consumer decision-making, so it’s important to be informed about these for the products you sell. 

Socially conscious. Having become so aware of the impacts of the pandemic, especially on tourism-reliant destinations like Samoa, many travellers will want to know how they can give back to communities and support local businesses. To meet the hopes and expectations of more socially conscious travellers, travel advisors should be knowledgeable and insightful about the types of tours, accommodations, and activities that have the strongest local connections and contribute most to Samoan communities. 

Travelling sustainably. Similarly, reduced tourist traffic around the world has highlighted the damaging impact tourism can have on natural environments if not done responsibly. Consequently, consumers returning after the pandemic will be more driven by itineraries that support the idea of sustainable travel in Samoa’s unspoilt natural landscape. 

It’s exciting to be thinking about selling and planning trips to Samoa again, but while there will be many opportunities ahead with demand building across a range of markets, it’s not likely to be a case of picking up from exactly where you left off. Right now, it’s time to start thinking a little differently about who will visit Samoa, why they’ll go, and what they’ll want from you.