The Associate Minister of Tourism, Amituanai Fagaivalu Kenrick, who is in Fiji for the Miss Pacific Islands, is in awe.
He envies Fiji’s tourism sectors’ success and growth.
He wishes Samoa was reaping the same tourism rewards as Nadi and the rest of Fiji’s tourism stakeholders.
Fiji Airways’ daily international flights complemented by the world-class hotels providing needed accommodation and the quality of personal services are a few pluses he wants Samoa to follow.
“Our country’s tourism sector can just be as vibrant,” he says.
For that to happen, he believes Samoa must take the “all hands on deck approach.”
It requires a united drive by government, the private sector, tourism operators and most importantly local residents.
“Our Samoa Tourism Authority is commended for maintaining a stable increase in our tourism annual revenues which averages over $300 million tala a year,” he acknowledged.
“Tourism is the main stay of our economy. But we need more international flights to bring in more tourists and visitors.”
“Fiji Airways is the heart of tourism in Fiji,” he continued. “And that is the government’s aspirations for Samoa Airways to be in the same situation to fly in more tourists and visitors.
“Samoa Airways strategy is; think big and start small with the ultimate goal of offering affordable fares for our visitors and for our people.
“Of course, there will always be criticisms, some constructive, some with ulterior motives but at the end of the day, it’s about putting food on the table and paying school fees for our children from tourism revenues earned by taxi drivers, handicraft makers, farmers to name a few.
“Without a national carrier our tourism strategic development plan will never be realized.
“Fiji’s tourism did not arrive to where it is today by accident,” added the Associated Minister. “It took years to build and years of failures and tribulations to be where it is today.”
“We need Fiji in tourism, if we are to attract more tourists,” admits Amituanai.
“This is based on direct international flights from Asian countries to the Pacific, which Fiji has and Samoa doesn’t.”
He says that for Samoa, the only way to get in Asian tourists is either through Australia, New Zealand or Fiji.
Added the Associate Tourism Minister; “Once Asian tourists come to Fiji, they get to feel what the Pacific is like and will convince them to come to Samoa.”
“I marvel and envy Fiji’s tourism strength.”
He complimented the government and people of Fiji in developing a vibrant tourism sector. And he also thanked the hosts of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant which was brainchild by Samoa 31 years ago.
As for the Pageant, he echoes Fiji’s President Jioji Konrote message that it is the platform that enables young women who represent the countries in the region to talk about issues that affect our families, societies and nations.
Nine contestants are vying for the crown this year with Miss Samoa Papali’i Alexandra Iakopo.
The 2017 Miss Pacific Islands will be crowned tonight.