|ETB news photo|
Tourism is our biggest earner
Tourism is one of the main focus of government
There is a lot of money to be made in tourism
Our tourists number is rising each year
These are some of the sayings that are associated with our tourism industry and I don't care much for the negative discussions in the past year revolving around tourism. This is not what this post is about. I do want to bask in the glow that came to Samoa about 2 weeks ago. Working at the airport and heading the Business Development Unit has its perks, one is being contacted about some spectacular events happening at our Terminal.
Two weeks ago, I received a call from Wendy Booth, owner of Seabreeze resort requesting approval for a number of her staff to be present at the airport awaiting the arrival of her husband Chris Booth. This arrival was special because Chris had gone to Dubai to receive 2013 World Travel Awards for being Samoa's Leading Hotel. 'The red-carpet event is considered the Oscars of the tourism industry and this accolade, voted by travel and tourism professionals worldwide, recognizes the commitment to excellence which Seabreeze has demonstrated in the last twelve months' (EBT news,2013).
Samoa Airport Authority of course said yes to accommodating the staff and key people in the Tourism industry to await this exciting award. Yikes, I think I was as excited as Wendy!maybe more excited. It did have something to do with having first knowledge from Wendy about the award. Apart from aviation, tourism is the next best thing, when these two industry marry, they produce amazing babies that will sustain themselves!
Back to the issue at hand, although I have never been to Seabreeze, never dipped my toes in their sands or enjoyed a nice pinacolada in the honeymoon suite...I felt like I was a part of it all. There has been too much negativity around tourism lately and this was just a great icing on the cake. This was to remind everyone involved in the industries that five star resorts did not win us awards, BULA did not win us awards, not even a state of the art 100+ room with infinity pools won us an award. It was simplicity at its best. It is a group of people who love what they do, who are committed to pleasing their customers, who do the little things so well,right down to having the right toilet roll, batteries in a TV remote,fast, reliable and friendly service. I am indeed proud because Seabreeze made the little dot that is Samoa a little bit bigger on the map. I have read all their reviews on Tripadvisor and boy is Wendy a good host from what I have read.
The best part was, Wendy's energetic chatting away on the phone and the sound of her voice, she is genuine. She loves working with our people and her staff love her back for that. They put on a whole other level of celebration at the airport for the event and of course all the big names in Tourism and hospitality were there to bask in the glow and that's okay.
I have always wanted to say that I abhor the decades of Tourism studies that compare us to Fiji. We are NOT Fiji. Fiji has a much bigger population. more British influence,their resources are plentiful as so are their islands and oh guess what, they have almost 5 times more population than us. So why is our tourism industry compared to Fiji? Why are we smaller?Because they have 500,000+ more reasons compared to our measly 180,000 people!! Oh and the secret (not), Fiji was built up by the Pacific in the 1970s to be an Air hub, they have air bridges!haha...They are closer to all our main markets, more air services, more air services agreements and oh they have more investors for their 5 star hotels..need I say more. While I was scrambling around to find one decent paper on Samoa aviation/tourism for my thesis,all I could find were brilliant articles about Fiji this, Fiji that...
Samoa is Samoa
- Fiji a bigger population and more islands
- 1 hour aviation gas fuel and 2 hours extra flight to Samoa might seem small but not to the airlines
- The cost versus services in Samoa compared to Fiji are of vast gaps
- ALL pacific islands are trying to sell the same sun,sand,beach, mermaid products to the same markets.
Seabreeze winning this award proves that not all tourists come for 5 start resorts and Gucci shopping, they come to see whether Samoa is indeed real. If we are people of the sun and if we are as friendly as they say we are. As the name suggests, we are different and set apart because we ARE SAMOA! We are set apart in our political stability, in our tattoo designs (and no I won't get into the Nike fiasco), our people, our virginity (yes we are still untouched) and for crying out loud-OUR SAMOANNESS...sell that, put that in a bottle and let the world catch our frangipani smell. They will come and sleep under our stars.
I take my hat off to Seabreeze, for all those who strive to do the best with what they have, for those around and in tourism, for the supporting services because without them there is no tourism and did I mention our people is the pulse and heartbeat of our tourism?? I have tried my best to not sound like a bloody academic and I think I have succeeded. An award may be just an award, however with the backing and the big media platform around it, people will think again before booking their flights. With that in mind, I conclude that the complex machine that is tourism is not that complex at all! People need to work together to achieve the impossible.
I leave you now with the saying of Seabreeze..."Seabreeze Resort, The Soul of Samoa in The Heart of Paradise"