After years of the COVID-19 pandemic throwing international travel into turmoil, Samoa’s beautiful shorelines have once again welcomed Australian travellers on the very first direct flight between the two nations.
Straight off the flight, passengers received a personal greeting by a host of Samoan government leaders and officials, including the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, Associate Minister of Tourism Faleomavaega Titimaea Tafua, High Commissioner of NZ, HE Trevor Matheson and High Commissioner of Australia, HE Emily Luck and the Samoa Tourism Board of Directors. Excitement ensued with a fresh ula offering and welcome by Miss Samoa and the Samoa Cultural Village team, a string guitar ensemble, and multiple cultural performances by a variety of local entertainers and dancers in the arrival hall and concourse.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster commented on the reopening saying “The past two years have been a trying time for the world over, but as Samoa now reopens its borders, it is our acknowledgement that our internal protection measures are safe for our people and for the yearning travellers who are wanting to visit family and friends, and who are eager to explore our heritage and natural environment,”
“We look forward to hosting all visitors, and showcasing our culture and environment, and pray that we continue to be mindful of the necessary travel health advisories for all of our protection.”
Pre-COVID, Australia and New Zealand visitors combined, accounted for 65% of Samoa’s total visitors of approximately 181,000 individuals, and contributed 69% of total visitor spend of WST528 million in 2019.
Newly appointed Samoa Tourism Authority CEO, Pativaine Petaia-Tevita, shared her excitement and optimism for the return of Australian visitors to Samoan shores.
“We are very excited to welcome back travellers on the very first direct flight from Sydney and Brisbane, to Apia. Samoa has been waiting for this moment for a long time and it was wonderful and uplifting to see passengers fill the terminal this afternoon,”
“Our reopening is a special milestone we’re celebrating along with the return of international visitors including family and friends.”
In preparation for the reopening, a series of developments and new processes were put in place to ensure Samoa would be travel ready, and that the health and safety of locals and international travellers remained of utmost priority. Samoa’s robust preparations include the achievement of high vaccination rates, training and upskilling for local employees, upgraded travel instructions and bolstered testing capabilities.
Vaccination rates were pivotal in the decision to reopen, with the most recent data showing almost 93% of Samoa’s eligible population, aged 5 years and over, has been fully vaccinated.
Big ticket attractions and much-loved natural treasures are primed and ready to receive the influx of travellers over the coming months, including the famous To Sua Ocean Trench, Piula Cave Pool, Afu Aau Waterfalls, Lalomanu Beach, and Samoan Cultural Village.
For more information on Samoa’s travel guidelines, as well as inspiration on things to do while visiting Samoa, please visit the Samoa Tourism website.