First time visitors to Samoa, Siyam Kuang and Moon Sung, tour operators from Korea were impressed with Samoa’s beauty
BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 10 APRIL 2017: Two of the key aspects identified by tour operators and retailers as lacking in the development of Samoa tourism are language and the authenticity of Samoa.
The language barrier was raised by China and Korea’s travel and tourism operators, while Sebastian Sarrasin, Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) representative in the United Kingdom, said tourists want to see Samoa’s authenticity in its culture and traditional way of life.
They were part of last weeks’ Samoa Tourism Exchange 2017 where they saw first-hand what Samoa has to offer the tourists.
Speaking to Talamua media, Sunny Xu, New Prestige Tour operator from China said Asian people struggle with English, and “it would help if local Asians such as Chinese, Japanese and Koreans can be used by tour operators to communicate with tourists when on island.
He said from the Asian’s perspective, “language barriers need to improve, as most Asian people do not speak English.”
Siyam Kuang and Moon Sung from Korea, agreed and they pointed out the need for a direct flight between Samoa and Korea.
“I did not know about Samoa, now I feel I know what real Samoa is after meeting so many travel agencies, wholesalers, and tourism operators and seeing Samoa,” said Kuang
“I will promote Samoa, but with no direct flight between Samoa and Korea, it would be hard to enter that market.”
Kuang said there are tourists who prefer flying direct to their destination, and there are others who like to overnights at different countries. However, for the success of tourism between Samoa and Korea, a direct flight is needed.
Huge potential for Savai’i
They agree that Samoa has a lot to offer to tourists, pointing out Savai’i as a much better tourist destination over Upolu.
She said Samoa is a perfect place “to relax and I have never seen such beautiful beaches like the ones in Savaii.”
Sebastian Sarrasin, Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) representative in the United Kingdom understands what the European tourists are after when they go on holiday.
Sebastian said that Samoa has a lot to offer historically and is what European tourists want.
“Authenticity really is to discover Polynesian culture and that is why we tell them where they should be going for holidays,” he said.
Sebastian said tourists want to see historical sites and the authentic Samoa with its culture, traditions and way of life.
“There should be less on commercial and more on authenticity,” said Sebastian.
As for direct flights, he said there will never be a direct flight from the UK to Samoa, and it is not an issue with EU tourists.
“Lots of visitors from the UK are going down to Australia and New Zealand as the prime destination because their families are there, and Samoa is an add on for a paradise experience,” said Sebastian.
Out of Europe, the largest market for Samoa as a destination is Germany due to the historical connection of Germany and Samoa in the past, then Switzerland and Austria and the UK.
“We are not talking massive numbers but it’s definitely a growing interest in Europe,” he said.
Sebastian said he had a chance to travel around Europe recently promoting and selling Samoa as a destination.
I have seen big differences versus loss, but Samoa is definitely making a name internationally in the tourism industry, said Sebastian.
Tourism is a $370 Million tala industry for Samoa that generates and contributes about 25% to National GDP.
Through the Tourism Exchanges Samoa is developing partnerships to grow its tourist market share and increase visitor arrivals from an average of 135,000 visitors per year over the past 5 years, to 150,000 by the year 2019.