28 Oct 2009

Samoa launches campaign to draw tourists

3:03 pm on 28 October 2009

Samoa is rolling out campaigns in New Zealand and Australia to attract tourists back after last month's tsunami.

The Samoa Tourism Authority started a New Zealand newspaper and televison campaign over the weekend and will launch a similar effort in Australia later this week.

Tourism is the country's lifeblood, contributing 25% to the total gross domestic product.

The large waves on 29 September hit the south coast of the island of Upolu, leaving many homes, villages, hotels and resorts in ruins.

However, tourism accommodation the south-west and north coasts, as well as on the other island, Savaii, were spared.

The tourism authority says the sunshine and hospitality are still there, but many holidaymakers have stopped coming.

Marketing manager Dwayne Bentley says it's business as usual in 80% of the country as much of Samoa's tourism products and services and other services outside tourism are very much operational.

The Hotel Association commends the ads and says it would be great if people would keep their bookings and come to Samoa.

Chief executive Nynette Sass says a team assessing damage to resorts in the devastated area, is due to report back in a couple of weeks.

Radio New Zealand International reports it is still unclear whether the government of Samoa will contribute to these reconstruction efforts.