Visitor arrivals and revenues drop

A crusieliner in the Apia port

APIA: 5 May 2011: Visitors arrivals and revenues dropped over the 12 months between January 2010 and 2011. This is revealed in the latest Samoa Tourism Authority statistics.

Visitor arrivals totaled 16,991 during January-February 2011, representing a marginal 0.4% drop compared to the same period in 2010.

New Zealand continues to be the biggest source market with a 44% share. Australia is a clear second with 19% with American Samoa at 17%.

There were 4,795 Holiday visitors during the period. The majority of these were from New Zealand (48%) and Australia (23%), with both markets showing encour-aging growth rates in holiday travel of 13% and 3% respectively compared to 2010.

North America also performed strong with a 11% growth in holiday visitors. These increases can be attributed to ongoing mar-keting activities carried out to enhance destination awareness, interest and demand such as tactical campaigns with airfare and accommodation offers.

With the withdrawal of the Los Angeles flight at the end of January, it is likely that this will impact on holiday and overall traffic from the USA, Canada as well as Europe as the flight offered direct access and a strategic transit hub for travelers. Overall, holiday visitors declined 1% during this traditionally slow period for holiday traffic.

Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) totaled 8,473 during the period, which equates to 50% of total visitors. Compared to 2010, this represents an increase of 12%. Most VFR visitors originated from New Zealand (48%), Australia (20%) and American Sa-moa (20%). All three markets performed strongly when compared to 2010.

Business, Sports & Others
Business visitors declined 13% to 1,318 during January-February, while Sports visi-tors increased 25% to 153 as a result of the Oceania Judo and Wrestling Championships in February. Other visitors recorded a 26% fall to 2,252.

Polynesian Blue (33%) and Air New Zealand (32%) remain the leading carriers. Polyne-sian Airlines and Inter Island brought in 11% and 10% respectively while Lady Naomi contributes 3% of the incoming traffic by sea.

Overall, visitor arrivals declined marginally and despite the occurrence of natural disasters in New Zealand and Australia during the period, visitors from these markets increased compared to 2010.

The withdrawal of the Los Angeles flight is expected to impact on visitor numbers from North America, UK and Europe.

Cruise Ship Port Calls to Port of Apia (2009 and 2010)
Cruise ship port calls have become a regular event over the recent years, and the number of cruise ships calling into shore have been sustained since 2009.

A total of 22 cruise ships docked at the Apia harbor in 2009.

It is reported that the total number for 2010 is slightly higher when compared to 2009 and this will soon be confirmed by the Samoa Ports Authority.

About 18 cruise ships have been confirmed for 2011. This number may change as the booking profile and placements of port call arrangements for some cruise lines have become shorter and closer to sailing.

To entice cruise lines, the Samoa Cruise Shipping Working Group has implemented a range of incentives including special rates, dock-side marketplace and traditional meet and greet entertainment.

Occupancy & Forward Booking Report (Jan-Feb)
The Research and Statistics Division has revived the occupancy survey for all accommodation properties, in an effort to ascer-tain occupancy levels in comparison to those from the Arrival Forms. This will be a monthly newsletter that will provide the occupancy levels based on the information available at the time of the newsletter release and therefore will comprise of monthly updates as more information is received from the accommodation properties.

The occupancy survey is a work in progress and can only be accurate with the cooperative assistance of the Accommodation sector. The Division is also attempting a forward bookings survey to measure seasonal and reservation time frames and also to assist the Marketing of Samoa.

The response rate to both surveys has been understandably slow and will improve as properties become more familiar with the provision of information and the concept that this is a means to help the survey team help all. The information will be updated monthly.

The survey covered all accommodation properties and the respondents were as follows:

  •  For Hotels, 64% responded for January and 44% February.
  •  For Beach Fales, 74% responded for January and 26% February.

The Beach Fale properties are treated separately from the Standardized Commercial Accommodation due to its uniqueness as a distinctive product

that is synonymous only to Samoa as a spe-cial form of tourism accommodation.

Findings of the survey:
The overall occupancy rate of Hotels for January was 22.9% with Deluxe being the highest category occupied with 37%. February received 25.3% occupancy with Deluxe being the top category of 39.5%.

In terms of forward bookings, March received the highest bookings of 39.5% with Budget being the leading category of 52.4%. April and June ranked second with booking rates of 26.5% and 28.6% respectively with Deluxe properties receiving the most bookings for these two months. The months with the least forward bookings were May and July with 22.9% and 14.6% respectively, and revealing that people’s booking profile have become shorter and events focused.

For Beach Fales, the occupancy rate for January was 15.9% and February 24.4%. For forward bookings, April & June seemed to be the peak months with 28.1% and 28.6% respectively.

The survey is still ongoing and there is an expectation of revision in occupancy and forward bookings figures for the coming months.

2010 Visitor Arrival Summary (At a Glance)

  •  Total visitor arrivals of 129,500 up by 195 or 0.15% compared to 2009.
  •  Total tourism earnings for 2010 amounted to $308 milion tala, a 2% decrease compared to the $314 million tala in 2009.

In terms of market contributions, New Zealand had not only topped the table in 2010 by bringing in the most visitors by 5% but also in the increase of tourism earnings by 47% when compared to the previ-ous year with a total of $145million Tala. Visitor arrivals from all other markets had declined due to the combined lingering im-pacts of the Global Financial Crisis and the 2009 Tsunami. Another contributing factor was due to aggressive competition from major tourism destinations as well as the aggressive promotions for domestic travel.

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