More than 150 tourism operators in Samoa have received direct funding support as part of the Government’s $5 million tala stimulus package that aims to revitalise the industry and provide capital injection to support struggling businesses.
A ceremony to launch the government’s $5 million tala stimulus package for tourism businesses in Samoa was held this morning at the STA fale attended by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Tourism, as well as development partners and eager businesses operators keen to sign off on their stimulus package agreements.
In a first ever direct funding support approach for Samoa, the Minister for Tourism Toeolesulusulu Cedrick Schuster said he was pleased to launch the Government Stimulus Package and reiterated the importance of the tourism sector as a key priority area for the development of Samoa.
“The Tourism Industry is indeed one of the key development priorities of the new government and it has also placed great emphasis, as it still holds much potential in the future and especially, a key stimulant for our economic recovery”.
The Minister echoed the industry’s struggles of the past two years with Samoa coming straight out of a measles epidemic, to face the impacts of border closures due to the coronavirus global pandemic.
“The sector without a doubt has been severely affected by the impacts of COVID-19 following on from the Measles epidemic,” said the Minister, “Moreover, the continued border closure remains to affect travel to Samoa and whilst efforts actively pursue domestic tourism has provided some level of business and relief for operators, the numbers in comparison to pre-COVID-19 are significantly lower and unsustainable for the majority of tourism businesses,” said Toeolesulusulu.
The Minister acknowledged the financial impacts on tourism businesses as they continue to struggle to stay afloat.
“There has been an increasing number of tourism businesses which have had to close down temporarily as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions and this number will continue to grow,” empathised the Minister.
The President of the Samoa Hotel Association (SHA) Tupai Saleimoa Vaai said the industry are extremely appreciative and grateful for Government’s support, especially the recognition of the industry’s contributions to the development of Samoa.
“It has been a hard fight for the industry, and it has been two years of struggle and staying afloat,” said Tupai. “But the Government and Cabinet have acknowledged the hardships of businesses and they have taken our pleas seriously. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Government especially the Cabinet..”
The man behind the industry most affected by continued border closures says the process businesses went through was simple, easy to access and complete. “The requirements were fair and the process was really well implemented and not complicated in any way,” said Tupai. “We also tried to make sure we didn’t miss anybody”.
The assistance will provide access to finance for tourism businesses with the main objectives to:
- Revitalise the industry through maintenance works to improve tourism products
- Expedite the recovery of the sector
- Provide capital injection to assist tourism businesses with operational costs and other key priorities
Tourism businesses will be able to utilise the assistance on activities such as maintenance or repair works, replacement of amenities, equipment, even wage subsidies, annual fees/subscriptions, operational costs and any other priorities and financial obligations faced.
The utlilisation of funds is extensive and the Minister did issue a friendly reminder for businesses to ensure funds are allocated to business priorities. “It is our hope that the stimulus will be utilized accordingly in line with the conditions set out and will be able to assist the recovery of your respective businesses during these challenging times,” said Toeolesulusulu.