A Wellington woman has won two return tickets to Samoa as part of a Save the Children raffle to raise funds for schools destroyed by the Samoan Tsunami.
The prize donated by Polynesian Blue Airlines is for two return tickets to the island .The winner was Tricia Stimson who has never been to Samoa before in her life .
The British High Commissioner, Mr George Fergusson who helped to organise the raffle said he and Save the Children were really grateful to Polynesian Blue.
“This proves that Samoan tourism is open for business and the islands remain a superb destination.”
Miss Samoa, Tusisaleia Hope Pomele was named Fourth Runner Up at the recent Miss South Pacific Pageant crowning at the Albert Park in Suva, Fiji on Friday 27th November 2009 (Samoa Time)
Miss Fiji, Merewalesi Nailatikau was crowned Miss South Pacific ahead of the 12 other contestants from around the Pacific region.
Papua New Guinea will host the next pageant in 2010. The Miss South Pacific was first held in Samoa in 1987.
During recent Joint Ministerial Consultation (JMC) between Samoa and New Zealand Governments, New Zealand made known its assistance to the tsunami affected tourism properties.
At the JMC on 06th November 09, New Zealand revealed their assistance of NZ$4 Million for the development of the tourist resorts that have been damaged by the tsunami.
The utilisation of these funds for the said development will be determined by Cabinet upon recommendation from an independent Consulting Firm, KVA Consult Ltd. KVA Consult Ltd recently completed a Cabinet approved Rapid Assessment of the Impact of theTsunami on the Tourism Sector and has since passed on its findings and recommendations to Cabinet.
New Zealand also informed Samoa of its NZ$1 Million assistance to sustain the Air New Zealand flights to Los Angeles from Apia.
Samoa Tourism Authority has accepted a Letter of Resignation from the current Miss Samoa, Jacinta Bourne.
Miss Bourne yesterday handed in her resignation to STA stating personal reasons.
STA Chief Executive Officer, Matatamalii Sonja Hunter has accepted Miss Bourne’s decision on behalf of STA and wishes her well in her future endeavors.
The Miss Samoa crown and duties will now be handed over and carried by First Runner Up, Miss Samoa USA, Tusisaleia Hope Pomele.
Voluntourism may be a foreign word to most but its defining actions have left an immeasurably positive impact on Samoa in this post tsunami period.
The tsunami which hit Samoa on 29th September 2009 has seen the influx of a different type of tourist into the nation – the ‘Voluntourist’ (Volunteer Tourist).
It has become evident that a significant number of tourists that visited Samoa immediately after the tsunami as well as others still coming into the country now are not here for the regular beach holiday. Instead, they are here to make a positive contribution to the society, in particular the tsunami affected community as a whole.
These ‘voluntourists’ have come with the simple objective of ‘wanting to give something back to the community’.
Some are repeat tourists who have been here before and as a result of having experienced the friendliness of the Samoan people, want to return the favor by coming back and offering a helping hand. Other tourists including first time visitors want to provide any type of assistance that they can offer not only for those affected by the tsunami but to the country as a whole.
These tourists’ memorable experiences of Samoa are found in helping property owners and villagers clear the debris, utilizing their skills and talent be it in carpentry, plumbing, giving to those affected by hand delivering needed supplies from clothes to food to building materials to money.
They have visited Samoa individually, as couples, as teams and as groups for the specific purpose of donating to the nation one way or another.
Such generosity and good will has not gone unnoticed by the local community especially those directly affected by the tsunami.
Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale of Sinalei Spa & Reef Resort who lost his wife to the tsunami shared his gratitude with the participants of the Samoa Tourism Exchange 09 last Friday.
“The support we’ve received from friends and guests who had previously stayed at the Resort has been overwhelming…they’ve come back and helped us tremendously…they’re all staying at the resort (area not affected) helping in all sorts of ways,” shared Tuatagaloa
These tourists make up one of Samoa’s most vital post tsunami rehabilitative steps towards recovery.
As made known at the STE09, Voluntourism has provided the necessary humanitarian support the country needs at a time when those affected are looking to piece their lives together again and move forward.
Encouraging this type of tourist to visit Samoa is a significant part of the Samoa Tourism Authority’s sensitively driven post tsunami marketing campaign. Keeping in mind the delicate situation at hand, STA understands that a ‘soft and emotive message’ needs to be used to communicate that ‘it’s okay for visitors to come to Samoa’.
The simple message assuring intending visitors that Samoa and everything that makes it unique and sought after as a tourist destination still exists, is at the forefront of property owners’ own appeal especially that of the affected properties to the outside world. These owners want potential tourists to know that they as tourist properties are still here and would love to see them, the tourists here too.
As Koroseta Legalo of wiped out Faofao Beach Fales tearfully asserted, her ‘tourist accommodation business’ is her livelihood.
Therefore the need for these tourists is unmistakable and the benefits of STA’s investment in this recovery strategy are undeniably evident.
Legalo revealed at the STE09 that Christian group ‘Word of Life’ that visit and stay with them on an annual basis have sent back a few representatives with a substantial amount of money to help them rebuild. Some members of the ‘Singabout Musical Group’ from Australia, New Zealand and other developed countries have returned to help clean the area making it safe again for the locals as well as intending tourists in the future.
Christian Surfers International which provides Maninoa Surf Camp with a lot of its surfing visitors are also sending a group of ‘surfies’ with building skills and ‘know how’ to restore the surfing property.
Even visiting school groups have gone out to the tsunami affected villages and offered their support. Others have acted as messengers of goodwill such as the Kamo Intermediate School which brought over NZD2000.00 from North Cross School for the Poutasi Primary School that was destroyed.
Such illustrations are only a few of a multitude of acts of kindness by the good Samaritan voluntourists, that Samoa and its people have appreciatively benefited from.
These positive results are the driving factor for STA’s efforts to pave the path towards a positive future for Samoa’s tourism industry
The Samoa Tourism Exchange 2009 has opened eyes, avenues and opportunities for Samoa’s Tourism Industry as it looks to a ‘new normal’ way of doing things after the tsunami impact on the nation a month ago.
The Samoa Tourism Authority hosted STE09 which took place on Friday 30th October 2009 at the National University of Samoa, brought together more than 200 representatives of the local tourism industry and regional experts to offer each other support, share viewpoints and discuss productive ways of moving forward from the tsunami which hit the south-south east coast of Upolu on 29th September 2009.
A key factor that was highlighted as one of the main steps to recovery was the need to strive for some form of normality but not to return to the way things had been done in the past.
One of the guest speakers, Mr. Chris Flynn of Pacific Asia Travel Association urged participants that in moving forward, there had to be a “new normal” way of life put in place.
“Doing things the old way just will not do!”
While Flynn understood that the country needed time to heal, he advised that, like the Indonesia Boxing Day tsunami devastation, “once the pain subsided it was understood that the Tsunami had created a new opportunity.”
Such new opportunities for Samoa that were the collective focus at the Exchange included: creating a ‘Green Samoa’; compiling an integrated plan for strategic, sustainable tourism development; promoting a realistic and authentic Samoa with emphasis on the Faasamoa being the Samoan Way; and, the need for leadership and unity to be the forces for change.
An indicator of this unity was a publicly committed pledge at the Exchange by STA and the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment through their Chief Executive Officers, to form a stronger and closer working relationship, which would implement sustainable tourism objectives such as sustainable and green tourism already recognized in the Tourism Development Plan 2009-2013 and current MNRE Plans.
Flynn emphasized that with all these positive changes in place, consumer confidence will grow and tourism to the affected region will undoubtedly return, as was already starting to be seen in Samoa.