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
Tourism operators are trying to attract holidaymakers back to Samoa to earn much-needed money for the tsunami-stricken nation.
The Samoa Tourism Authority will tomorrow start a newspaper and television campaign promoting the nation.
"It's a great time to visit Samoa," said NZ marketing manager Fasitau Ula. "The sunshine is still here, the waterfalls and blow-holes are still here, the smiling faces are still here.
"The only thing that's not here is you'."
Mr Ula said only 15 to 20 per cent of homes had been affected by the tsunami. "The other 80 per cent is business as usual.
"Instead of people sending money across to help the fundraising activities, why don't they come and enjoy their holiday, and at the same time their tourism dollar is helping rebuild the country and the damaged infrastructures."
Tourism in other Pacific nations was not affected. Chris Ingram of the Cook Islands Tourism Authority said the number of holiday-makers had risen 10 per cent since the tsunami.
"We've definitely fielded a lot more calls expressing interest."
Political turmoil in Fiji had also led to business moving to the Cook Islands, Mr Ingram said.
At the time of the tsunami, Pacific Blue Airlines was already running a "Samoa for Lowa" campaign promoting inexpensive trips.
The airline put on cheap flights and increased baggage allowances immediately after the tsunami to enable Samoans living in New Zealand and Australia to support family members and assist in the clean-up.
"What we've seen is there were a number of cancellations but bookings are building again," spokesman Phil Boeyen said.
" I think New Zealanders understand the country is still open. The message is getting through already that one of the best ways to support Samoa is to continue to go on holiday."
House of Travel sales director Brent Thomas said this time of year - after the school holidays and before Christmas - tended to be quiet anyway so it was hard to gauge how many New Zealanders had decided against travelling to Samoa.
SOURCE: NEW ZEALAND HERALD ONLINE
By Alanah May Eriksen
Twenty-one-year-old Samoan beauty Jacinta Bourne hopes to use the Miss South Pacific Pageant to further strengthen the message of preserving our environment.
Ms Bourne is studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in tourism and management and industrial relations at the University of the South Pacific's Alafua Campus.
"It is my humble wish that upon completion of my studies I become a part of the team that will help turn our tourism industry around, following the aftermath of the devastating tsunami which indiscriminately destroyed part of our island and took the lives of some of our beloved people," she said.
"I have very strong personal feelings about the theme for this year's Miss South Pacific Pageant, 'Preserving our environment the Pacific Way' especially after the devastation caused to my Samoa by the tsunami," she said.
"Besides enjoying time with and getting to know the other contestants, I hope to use this opportunity and forum to champion matters relating to the environment. I truly believe that all the unfortunate incidents recently experienced worldwide and in our own neighbourhood, is because we have not done enough of what we should have, and should be doing, to help preserve our environment."
Wishing the other contestants an enjoyable time, Ms Bourne said she hoped they would work together to preserve our environment for future generations.
Source: FIJI Times Online15 October, 2009 permalink
In the aftermath of the recent earthquake and subsequent Tsunami that devastated parts of the Samoan Islands it has been agreed by all parties concerned that TIDES 2009 should be postponed until February 2010.
At this stage we are proposing new dates of 10 -13 Feb 2010. Please mark your diaries accordingly and we will confirm new dates as soon as possible.
In the interim PATA will work with the Samoa Tourism Authority and other related agencies to review the current needs in order to prioritise their recovery strategy. Our actions in this area will be captured and detailed as a new feature in the TIDES 2010 extended programme as it will become, in effect, a living case study in support of our efforts to assist Samoa regain its strength and position.
Any confirmed registrations held to date for TIDES 2009 will be regarded as valid for 2010 unless you advise us otherwise. We will of course keep you fully informed of our plans and changes to the event programme so please stay with us and be ready to recommit to TIDES 2010. Your support for TIDES will play a pivotal role in assisting Samoa recover from these tragic circumstances.
Pacific Asia Travel Association.
Mr YP Reddy, Chairman of the Tanoa Hotel Group, has stated that the additional challenges faced in the refurbishment of the hotel as a result of the major fire and the recent horrific tsunami have taken their toll but that the planning in both logistics and the purchasing of materials was well underway and he is confident that this will result in minimal delays in opening. He is looking to open mid 2010.
He said “ You cannot imagine my feelings when I physically watched the fire ravage the Public areas of the hotel and then to hear 7 days later of the impact of the tsunami….it took a great deal of soul searching to carry on. The Government and people of Samoa especially the wider tourism community have urged me to continue and this is exactly what we are doing. My team is working around the clock to open what will be a fine hotel as quickly as possible. “
It will mean a complete rebuild of the hotel’s public areas and plans show that they will include the rebuilding of some of the fales.
YP Reddy also said “We will endeavor to now deliver a better product than before and one which we sincerely hope that the people of Samoa can take pride in. There is much work to be done in the restoration of the market as it reacts to the aftermath of the tsunami but we are confident that Tourism Samoa, the Government and Airlines and various agencies will do a great job in minimizing the impact on both the workforce and economy caused by this tragic event.
I would like to personally thank on behalf of my family and all of our management and staff, the wonderful words of comfort and support from His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese and Her Highness, The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and members of Cabinet and the wider business community. This encouragement has given us the strength and confidence to move forward.
Source: Tanoa Hotel Group13 October, 2009 permalink
Samoa’s Tourism industry met with Government representatives today, Tuesday 13th October 09 to discuss how to effectively move forward from the Tsunami which hit Samoa on the 29th September 2009.
Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff stated that the Meeting was to allow both Government and the Industry a time together to plan the future of Tourism and the rehabilitation process.
The Meeting was very favorable for all participating parties as it provided the opportunity to exchange queries and advice on assistance required and recommended for the affected properties.
Kolone Vaai & Associates (KVA) Consult Ltd is currently carrying out on behalf of Government, a Rapid Assessment of the Impact of the Tsunami on the Tourist Accommodation Businesses and the implications on the Tourism Sector. The Final Rapid Assessment Report is expected to be due in November 09.
This Report according to the Hon. Tourism Minister “will give Government a clearer picture of what Government has to provide in form of further assistance”.
Government has also approved ST$500 Thousand to boost the Samoa Tourism Authority’s Marketing Initiatives that have restarted, with the sole focus of telling the outside world that albeit the recent tsunami and its effects on the South South East Coast of Upolu, ‘it’s still business as usual’ here in Samoa.12 October, 2009 permalink
The messages of support for Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa have been overwhelming and we are all so touched that you are thinking of us. It is expected that Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa in Samoa will reopen on 01 November 2009 with Garden View and Ocean View Fales being the only accommodation grades available.
We have uploaded details on how you can personally assist the Sinalei family and their surrounding villages (See above:
SINALEI TSUNAMI RELIEF FUND
thank you all for your support and love at this time.
Sinalei management will be in a position to update the website with firm details early next week but in the meantime if you wish to register a booking, Sinalei Reservations will accept those subject to reconfirmation from you once a final date announcement is made.
For further information please email: email@example.com October, 2009 permalink
Two Princesses came, saw and gave to Samoa last week.
The Sun Princess and Star Princess Cruise Ships which docked at Apia Port last week brought visitors and crew that wanted to help the people of Samoa and help it did.
The Star Princess, on its maiden voyage to Samoa on Friday 09th October 09 last week, donated more than USD$10,000.00 on behalf of the Princess Cruises Community Foundation and the Crew Club Funds, to assist Samoa in its relief and rehabilitation efforts after the Tsunami that struck on Tuesday 29th September 09.
The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff accepted the donation on behalf of the people of Samoa and Government..
Each vessel brought to Samoa's shores more than 2000 passengers each..
Both vessels are coming through Samoa again on return visits in November, as well as two other cruise ships also expected next month.07 October, 2009 permalink
Samoa’s Tourism Industry is making a sure and steady recovery despite the effect of the Tsunami that struck Samoa on Tuesday 29th September 2009.
The owners of the affected properties which make up less than a quarter of all accommodation (resorts, beach fale and day visit properties) in Samoa have a realistic and positive outlook on where they will go from here.
The plan of action for most if not all those owners affected is “Rebuilding”. These owners are determined and adamant to move onwards and forward in spite of the damage done to what has been their home, their source of income, their lives.
“This is our livelihood… of course we will rebuild”, firmly states Koroseta, owner of Faofao Beach Fales at Saleapaga, one of the worst affected areas along the South-South East Coast.
Ms. Sose Annandale has assessed the damage to Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa and expects to reopen by 1st November 2009.
Coconuts Beach Club and Resort is aiming to reopen on 1st February 2010, as stated on its website “with fresh beginnings”.
Though the task seems daunting from the outside looking in, the owners have a confident outlook.
The support from the local tourism Industry and Government ensures that this positive stance becomes an actual accomplishment.
The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, Afioga Misa Telefoni Retzlaff has confirmed that Government through the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) and KVA Consult “will carry out a study to assess the damage and provide advice on a roadmap to total rehabilitation in the least possible time”. The Australian Government is providing financial assistance for this study which is expected to be completed in 2-3 weeks.
Samoa Tourism Authority is restarting its destination marketing initiatives on the 12th October 2009. STA’s tourism campaigns have currently been withdrawn in consideration of the situation at hand. STA with assistance from international tourism organizations as well as the foreign travel media and marketing agencies, will step up its promotional strategies upon resumption.
South Pacific Tourism Organisation’s CEO, Mr Tony Everitt, put it aptly in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. According to the article, Everitt emphasized that it would not help if people stayed away from Samoa from some misguided sense of decorum.
"It is quite important that as we grieve for those who have been severely impacted by the disaster we keep it in context and understand that there is a lot of Samoa that - while they will be in mourning for some time - is quickly going to be back in business as usual."
In the meantime, STA continues its humanitarian efforts to assist all those that have been affected by the tsunami.03 October, 2009 permalink
In light of recent events, Samoa Tourism Authority’s restorative approach for the next few weeks is as follows:
1. Assist : STA’s primary focus since the Earthquake and Tsunami struck on Tuesday 29th September 2009, is the ongoing first hand assistance and support for those affected through –
§ locating, identifying and evacuating the displaced/injured/missing/deceased
§ providing basic supplies (food/clothing/toiletries) for the displaced/injured
§ an in-house Tsunami Donation Collection which will be distributed to those in the affected areas on Tuesday 06th October 2009
§ assessing and discussing the situation with affected Property owners
2. Clean up : Starting next week, Monday 05th October 2009, the National Beautification Committee (NBC) and STA will begin its clean-up efforts around the affected areas and properties, in accordance with Police guidelines.
3. Reactivate & Rebuild: From Monday 12th October 2009, destination marketing initiatives will recommence. STA’s tourism campaigns have currently been withdrawn in consideration of the situation at hand. STA with assistance from international tourism organizations as well as the foreign travel media and marketing agencies, will intensify its promotional strategies upon resumption.
STA will continue to implement necessary plans of action that will assist not only the tourism sector but also the country as a whole in its endeavors to overcome this incident.
As a result of the Earthquake and Tsunami that hit the Samoa Islands on Tuesday 29th September 2009, coastal areas of Samoa sustained damages with extensive destruction mainly to the South-South Eastern coast of Upolu Island. Damages were to resorts, family homes and community buildings, roads, power lines and water supply located along the coastline of the affected areas.
Tourist Accommodation Properties that were most affected include:
Coconuts Beach Club, Resort & Spa
Maninoa Surf Camp
Sinalei Reef Resort
Salani Surf Resort
Vavau Beach Bungalows
Seabreeze Resort at Paradise Cove
Lupesina Beach Resort
Faofao Beach Fales
Taufua Beach Fales
Litia Sini Beach Resort
Namu’a Beach Fales
Vaotuua Beach Fales
Sieni Beach Fales
Siutaufogapapa Beach Fales (day visit property)
Valengina’s Beach Fales (day visit property)
Romeo’s Beach Fales (day visit property)
Manusina Beach Fales (day visit property)
As a result, these Resorts and Beach Fale Properties are NOT AVAILABLE for accommodation.
A few properties in neighboring areas such as Virgin Cove and Le Vasa Resort on Upolu and Aganoa Surf Retreat in Savaii are still operating, despite facing some degree of damage.
The rest of the Hotel/Beach Fale Accommodation Properties throughout the country are fully functional and continuing normal operations.
These properties are accommodating those visitors that have relocated from the affected areas, those arriving into the country needing alternative accommodation due to the cancellations with the damaged properties, as well as the pre-booked and ‘walk in’ tourists.
The Faleolo International Airport, Samoa’s main air travel gateway has remained open throughout this time, allowing the Airlines to operate their normal schedule. Air New Zealand and Polynesian Blue have announced increased capacity and discounted airfares for travel to Samoa respectively.
The Samoa Tourism Authority is working in close collaboration with core Government Ministries, the Hotel Industry, the Airlines and the Resident Missions to assist the tourists that were affected by the tsunami, through provision of basic supplies, accommodation and speedy evacuation processes.
STA has also established a Help Link on the Samoa Tsunami Emergency Page of its website www.samoa.travel to assist overseas people trying to locate loved ones who were on island when the natural incident occurred.
STA will be providing regular updates.01 October, 2009 permalink
As many of you may be aware, Samoa was hit by a Tsunami yesterday morning that has affected many of our resort properties facing the South East.
We would like to advise that the Samoa Tourism Office in Apia will be closed as our staff work on the ground to assist tourists with new accommodation or arranging travel plans to return home.
If you are looking for loved ones, please complete the missing persons report located on the homepage of this site.
A full list of affected resorts will be published here in due course.