5 Mar 2020

Coronavirus deals another blow to beleaguered Samoa tourism

4:44 pm on 5 March 2020

Samoa tourism is trying to entice Samoans in Australia and New Zealand to visit home to boost its beleaguered tourism industry sector.

Beach in Samoa

Photo: Corbis

The country's biggest industry is forecasting a 20 to 25 percent drop in revenue this quarter, with Samoa hit by the measles epidemic and now travel restrictions from the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Much of the country shut down as it fought last year's measles outbreak, which claimed the lives of 83 people - most of them children.

Now, Samoa's government has slashed the number of flights to the country to ward off the arrival of the coronavirus.

Samoa Tourism Authority chief executive Fa'amatuainu Lenata'i Suifua said thousands of jobs were dependent on tourism, and a bout of cancellations was worrying.

"In the meantime, we're actually reaching out to our Samoan communities in Australia and New Zealand, you can always come and visit the families over here... Now, there's a lot of discounted offers...so they come and visit us and make sure life is as normal as usual."

The country's largest industry had had a devastating few months, Fa'amatuainu said.

"It's a really big impact. We have more than 5000 employees in the industry as well as some of the supporting services, so we're trying as much as possible to keep the industry afloat.

"A lot of the hotels, a lot of the properties, they've actually reported cancellations as well as a decrease in terms of the bookings and sales."

Fa'amatuainu said he was hoping things were resolved before the peak tourist season started in a few months.

Everyone visiting Samoa needed a medical certificate, he said.

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