National | Samoa

"Samoa is still open for business" - Samoan Tourism CEO

A Tama'ita'i Samoa (wahine Hāmoa) performs one of the unique dance forms that make up Fa'asāmoa / Source - File.

Tourism in Samoa is a major contributor to the economy. Tourism expenditure in Samoa is estimated to be approximately $339 million this year. The Samoan Tourism industry has been hit hard with hundreds of cancellations in bookings since the beginning of the measles outbreak in September.

The death toll from the measles epidemic has increased to 72 with one fatality recorded in the last 24 hours. In the latest update from the Samoan government, on top of the fatalities increasing, the Ministry of Health has confirmed a total of 4,995 measles cases reported to its Disease Surveillance Team, since the outbreak was declared in October.

Tourism in Samoa is usually peaking at this time of year but fear of the measles outbreak has kept tourists away.

Samoa Tourism Authority CEO Fa'amatuainu Lenata'i Suifua says, "There's a story going around that Samoa is not safe. But let us assure that Samoa is still open for business. The hotels are open, the airlines are running, even the car rentals. All the businesses are open."

Samoa is renowned for its amazing natural scenery, cool beaches, mountains and hills, and its overwhelming hospitality.

Fa'amatuainu also says, "What we offer to the outside world is Fa'asāmoa, the Samoan way of doing things. Fa'asāmoa is what makes us unique from the other destinations. That's how we do things, it’s how we live, how we eat and how we actually react so Fa'asāmoa is everything for us."

Despite the stigma that Samoa isn’t safe nothing was going to stop these Aussie tourists from enjoying their holiday.

One tourist says, "Actually me and my fiance are getting married here so it didn't even put us off."

Another says, "The hospitality has been fantastic, and I think it’s important to come and support the Samoan people they're lovely. We've had a wonderful time.

"A lot of the tourist destinations we've been to, we've been the only ones there so it is very quiet.”

“We've loved Samoa and are saddened by the crisis but by coming here we've done our bit to help,” another says.

Fa'amatuainu says the Samoa Tourism Authority has taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of tourist to Samoa.

"Before we hit the measles like in terms of the fatalities the tourism industry was preparing in terms of vaccinations for all the hotel staff as well as the key agencies."

Fa'amatuainu is confident that numbers will pick up again once the measles outbreak has been fully contained and is encouraging tourist to visit Samoa this summer season.