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Islands reach out to visitors

WITH a 12 per cent growth in its tourism industry in 2015, Samoa will use its recent Tourism Expo and a national initiative to drive arrivals higher this year. Fresh from the Samoa Tourism Expo, a high-level delegation will attend the South Pacific Tourism Event and the Australian Travel Exchange on the Gold Coast this month. An estimated 59 buyers attended the Samoa event – a record after nine years – from across New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada, China, South Korea, Fiji and American Samoa. Tourism Minister, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, believes Samoa’s tourism industry has a bright future.

“This year, a record 59 Travel Trade representatives with vested interest in Samoa’s tourism products registered (at the Samoa Tourism Expo),” Lautafi said. His belief stands despite the difficulty Samoa has in accessing visitors from Japan, China and Korea who must travel through Australia, Fiji or New Zealand. While flights are many and affordable, schedules are unkind with travellers arriving around 5am at Faleolo International Airport after more than 24 hours of travel. Sonja Hunter, CEO of the Samoa Tourism Authority, spoke after the 2015 SPTE in Melbourne of the difficulties with connecting flights.

“We can build a better airport and improve our plant and infrastructure but it doesn’t help if we cannot get our tourists to arrive at a reasonable time,” Hunter said. 

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