17 October 2020: The inaugural Palolo Festival proved to be a huge success and President of the Samoa Hotel Association Tupai Saleimoa Vaai says it can be developed into a premium tourism product and annual event for Samoa.
Although this year the palolo rising was not as plentiful as expected, Tupai says the 5-day event achieved its goals in boosting not only the economy but the morale of Savaiians and its tourism industry.
“We had a very successful Palolo festival and the reaction I’ve received from the members of the industry was of excitement because it really uplifted our communities and put the spotlight on Savaii” said Tupa’i who is also the owner of Vaimoana Seaside Lodge.
“The event was successful in being able to convert the high interest in palolo rising into hotel bookings, and brought over locals from Upolu to experience what the festival had to offer.”
Tupai acknowledged the business partners that helped to make it all possible and says he hopes they’ll stay with them for the long term.
“The Palolo Festival has set the foundation for a premium tourism product to be developed into an annual event in Savaii”.
“Everybody is looking forward to next year and moving forward, we will take lessons learnt from this experience and improve on them so as to create a premium tourism product that Samoa can be proud of.”
“We thank Vodafone and Taula Beverages for getting behind our communities here on Savaii and we hope we can continue our partnerships in future events.”
Tupa’i also added that the success of the Palolo festival was due to the synergy between Savaii tourism operators and their donor partner organisations who worked towards a shared vision for the big island.
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“The tourism industry in Savaii is made up of like minded people and operators,” says Tupai.
“We all understand the same challenges that come with operating properties in Savaii and with that comes a lot of passion in raising the visibility of Savaii”.
Tupai added, “We couldn’t have done this without the ongoing support from the Samoa Tourism Authority who are doing their best to mitigate the adverse impact of the global pandemic on our tourism industry.
There were more people than palolo this year but that did not dampen the spirits of those who had travelled to Savaii.
Across four properties in Salelologa, Siuafaga, Manase and Asau, guests were treated to daily live performances by local bands; PolyFlavour, Tofuiava Band and Silver Bullet.
Festive hours and entertainment started earlier than usual in the day allowing guests enough time to celebrate and rest before heading out in the early hours of Palolo rising.
Despite wild wet weather conditions causing the scheduled Parade of Canoes in Siufaga to be postponed, Amoa Resort pushed on with their planned White Night Evening extravaganza on the Friday night and singer Emme Eteru performed to a packed house full of guests decked out in their dazzling white themed attire.
The grand finale of the Palolo Festival played out in spectacular fashion as expected in Manase when the inaugural Vidafone Manase Beach party kicked off on Saturday. Event organiser, Ieti Sanerivi reported that hundreds of visitors and locals enjoyed the positive vibes and family atmosphere of the beach party.
The festival was officially declared open by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Lopao’o Natanielu Mu’a who commended the collaborative effort of the Samoa Tourism Authority and Savaii hoteliers in bringing the event to life.
“Today marks the start of another major tourism activity in partnership with village communities, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Samoa Tourism Authority and the Savaii Tourism Indistry to further stimulate businesses with this inaugural Palolo festival; celebrating the spirit of palolo in unique Savaiian style.” said Lopao’o
He added “These activities will bring communities together again and attract more people from Upolu to spend time with families in Savaii. When our borders open up once again, this delicacy will be celebrated with our overseas visitors in an annual festival for an authentic experience and visitors are invited to join locals in locations where palolo is harvested in Savaii.”