Samoa on Tuesday 29th September 2009.
The owners of the affected properties which make up less than a quarter of all accommodation (resorts, beach fale and day visit properties) in Samoa have a realistic and positive outlook on where they will go from here.
The plan of action for most if not all those owners affected is “Rebuilding”. These owners are determined and adamant to move onwards and forward in spite of the damage done to what has been their home, their source of income, their lives.
“This is our livelihood… of course we will rebuild”, firmly states Koroseta, owner of Faofao Beach Fales at Saleapaga, one of the worst affected areas along the South-South East Coast.
Ms. Sose Annandale has assessed the damage to Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa and expects to reopen by 1st November 2009.
Coconuts Beach Club and Resort is aiming to reopen on 1st February 2010, as stated on its website “with fresh beginnings”.
Though the task seems daunting from the outside looking in, the owners have a confident outlook.
The support from the local tourism Industry and Government ensures that this positive stance becomes an actual accomplishment.
The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister, Afioga Misa Telefoni Retzlaff has confirmed that Government through the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) and KVA Consult “will carry out a study to assess the damage and provide advice on a roadmap to total rehabilitation in the least possible time”. The Australian Government is providing financial assistance for this study which is expected to be completed in 2-3 weeks.
Samoa Tourism Authority is restarting its destination marketing initiatives on the 12th October 2009. STA’s tourism campaigns have currently been withdrawn in consideration of the situation at hand. STA with assistance from international tourism organizations as well as the foreign travel media and marketing agencies, will step up its promotional strategies upon resumption.
South Pacific Tourism Organisation’s CEO, Mr Tony Everitt, put it aptly in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. According to the article, Everitt emphasized that it would not help if people stayed away from Samoa from some misguided sense of decorum.
"It is quite important that as we grieve for those who have been severely impacted by the disaster we keep it in context and understand that there is a lot of Samoa that - while they will be in mourning for some time - is quickly going to be back in business as usual."
In the meantime, STA continues its humanitarian efforts to assist all those that have been affected by the tsunami.