The Samoa government is pleading with Kiwi tourists not to cross it off as a holiday destination.
Most of the tourist resorts were not affected by the tsunami and the government says it desperately needs the Kiwi tourist dollar.
Fasitau Ula from the Samoa Tourist Authority says this is one of the most difficult marketing campaigns he has ever put together – convincing Kiwis to come back to Samoa after a tsunami ravaged the islands just over a month ago.
Instead of the usual hard sell, the Samoa Tourist Authority has taken a different approach in its bid to win back tourists.
“We’re celebrating the lives of those affected, by giving hope to the living,” says Ula of the new Samoa tourism advertisements.
It also offers hope to the 90% of Samoa’s accommodation not hit by the tsunami.
While they are open and ready for business, most have had cancellations due to disaster jitters
“It’s still a wonderful place for a holiday and within the sensitivities we’d like you to come back,” says Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni Retzlaff.
Even areas like Lalomanu beach, devastated by the tsunami, are recovering.
The beach is now cleared and while the loss of life has left an irreplaceable gap, the country is looking to the future.
That includes winning back tourists.
“It’s a $310m industry for us, it’s about 25-30% of our GDP so tourism is like the backbone of our economy,” says Retzlaff.
ONE News spoke to a number of travel agents, who say while sales to Samoa are down on last year; there are a lot of forward bookings.
“We’re quite strong in November and December& we’re just really hopeful that the work we’re doing with Samoa tourism will drive people to visit to Samoa,” says Bruce Parton of Air NZ.
Samoa’s message is clear – life must go on.