by Jasmine Netzler-Iose
Lovely people, exotic food and unspoiled beauty.
So is the testimony of Chris Hamilton and Sandy Murphy.
Mr Hamilton is the Director of Edventuretours, a travel agent in Hamilton New Zealand while Mrs Murphy comes from Pompallier Catholic College.
Mr Hamilton is responsible for coordinating an eight day trip for a group of headmasters, principals and teachers to help promote Samoa to schools around New Zealand.
Today, the group returns to New Zealand.
But three members of the group have already booked for students from their schools to travel to Samoa.
“Samoa is a great place to bring the kids,” says Mr Hamilton. “This is mostly due to the fact Samoa hasn’t been affected too much by tourism yet.”
Schools in New Zealand are often interested in bringing students to Samoa because of the arrangements they have in studying the country in general. Besides, many students are interested in how the tsunami affected the country.
Mr Hamilton has been working with the Samoa Tourism Authority for 10 years to bring such groups to Samoa. He says visitors have different reasons for choosing Samoa.
Some want to experience the culture while others like to study Geography, History and the impact of tourism in the country.
Mr Hamilton says Samoa has done well in the sense it has not allowed tourism to destroy its beautiful culture.
Travelling to the villages and seeing everyday life in Samoa is a beautiful experience, he says.
Ms Murphy says her school is one of the three that will return in July for a group visit.
“I can’t wait,” she says. “I absolutely love Samoa and I am very impressed. The people are so helpful, and the weather and food is fantastic.”
She says she did not take many photos of the tourist attractions because she wanted to give her students the same experience that she received when she first saw the places.
Another highlight of her visit was getting the chance to meet with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, who is also the Minister of Tourism.
“I felt like a little kid I was so excited,” she says about the visit.
According to a representative of the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA), the Familiarization Programme is part of their marketing plan to promote Samoa in New Zealand.
Source: Samoa Observer