Sonny Rivers, New Zealand sales and marketing representative for Samoa Tourism Authority says that February data shows 1,400 arrivals from New Zealand – an increase of 5% over 2020 (before borders closed).
‘Considering we are in our first year back, things are looking bright.’
Rivers says that while the expected influx has occurred from the VFR market, there is also a strong return from mainstream tourism – something, which is backed up by trade delegates at STE.
Shelley Gutry, Our Pacific, says demand is certainly high to the point where one of the challenges is finding wholesale-friendly accommodation in the market.
She says there is also a different dynamic when it comes to the booking pattern from New Zealand to Samoa and other parts of the Pacific.
‘Typically (pre-pandemic) we would see Kiwis booking their holidays a few months out. Now we are seeing really tight time frames – people booking just weeks ahead – and at the other end of the scale we have people already booking for next year.’
Gutry says the latter group have potentially missed out on their preferred options this year and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2024.
Nathan Bucknall, general manager at Taumeasina Island Resort, says the revival of tourism has definitely exceeded his expectations.
‘It started with Samoans returning to visit family and friends but we are now seeing a return through the travel trade and we have business travellers coming back.’