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.