By Aiga Tofilau & Unumoe Esera
APIA: Wednesday 30th May, 2012: There’s a feeling and atmosphere of celebration and festivity in the air. Its clean, new paint, flags and banners flowing from buildings and flagpoles as the Apia town undergoes a facelift to welcome overseas guests to celebrate the country’s 50th Independence anniversary celebrations this Friday 1 June.
Government Ministries have been decorating over the past weeks as well as private companies and the road to the main centre of the celebrations – the Mulinu’u Road has had a new tarsealed surface and surrounding buildings and private homes have been undergoing a facelift.
A few days into the Flag Raising Ceremony and celebrations, colourful lights will light up the night and different colours of flags and banners carrying well wishes and a happy Independence to all are already being displayed from flagposts lining the roads and draped infront of several buildings.
Many pot plants have also been placed by the road side adding more green to the town look. The new fence for the Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi building (TATTE building) only adds to the magnificence of the building.
The road towards Mulinu’u, where most of the official ceremonies wil be held, has been widened to allow more lanes for cars to travel to and from the town area to Mulinu’u and more parking spaces.
High hotel occupancy rate
The celebrations has already given hotels high occupancy and some are fully booked.
Tourists from New Zealand are the majority of arrivals into the country. According to Reservation Manager for Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows at Vasigano, Geraldine Rasmussen, they have an 86 percent occupancy at the moment. She said that they have been fully booked for Independence week since February especially the VIP section.
“The celebration of Independence has really boosted the number of tourists at the hotel at this time,” she said. Geraldine said the months of April and May were considered low season for them.
As for Aggie’s Grey’s Lagoon and Beach Resort at Mulifanua, General Manager Giovanni Rossi is a happy man.
“There is a 90 per cent occupancy at the hotel at the moment. We are fully booked from the 1st June onwards.” He said the majority of guests were from New Zealand, others from Australia and some of the locals.
Amanaki Hotel was also fully booked since March. Nia Tuala, owner of the Millenia Hotel at Sogi, said they were also no more rooms available, as many had booked since the beginning of this year. Also the weightlifting team from New Zealand were staying there as they would be competing at the Weightlifting Tournament for Independence starting 5 June.
The Tanoa Hotel on the roadside to Mulinu’u are also fully booked for independence with most guests from American Samoa.
Afana Seleni, receptionist for the Orators Hotel said that they are not packed as there were more than 30 guests booked at the hotel for the 30th and 31st May from New Zealand.