Help Re-Employ Staff and Restore Livelihoods in Rural Communities


29 October 2020 Apia Samoa: Booking a dream vacation at Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa will now mean you are helping to restore rural community employment and positively impact the lives of covid struck families in Samoa. 

The opportunity to make a change in the lives of local communities comes through a new project called “Sowful Journeys” driven by the family-owned and operated eco-resport in Siumu village, in partnership with the Poutasi Development Trust.

PC Alexia Rae

Nelson Annandale of Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa is the Project Manager who hopes to inspire future travelers to give back to communities through the project, recently launched via the New Zealand based crowdfunding platform, PledgeMe.

“In early March, we closed up shop to our normal clientele and it’s been a soul searching journey for ourselves since then,” said Mr Annandale.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how we can best utilise our time and make the best of what would otherwise be a very challenging situation;

“On the south coast, tourism makes a huge chunk of the employment and since March, we have had to lay off a lot of staff. Those who have been kept on are working reduced hours but we are starting to see the visible effects of an economy in trouble taking a financial toll on our communities;

Nelson Annandale with his mom, Sose Annandale.

“Sowful Journeys will not only give us an opportunity to re-employ all our staff and directly impact the lives of 700 individuals but do so in a more meaningful manner that will have a multiplier effect in spreading the economic benefits across the district to many different families.”

Samoa’s borders have been closed for the past 7 months since the 21st of March 2020 and look to remain closed indefinitely as the world battles against COVID-19.

“We don’t know when borders will open up again but if we can continue to work on projects like this and keep employing as many people as we can – it’s a win win all around.”

The project target is to reach $200K NZD in donations to help kick start the social impact initiative, with its key objective of helping to put displaced employees of the Sinalei Reef Resort and Poutasi Development Trust, back into jobs.

Mr Annandale says the Sowful Journeys vision is not a new concept, as the partner organisations have always explored different ways to engage their clientele in sustainable tourism over the years.

Recently however, the devastating impact of the global pandemic has led to widespread unemployment within Samoa’s tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of families and communities.

“That has been the main drive behind thr Sinalei Reef Resort management accelerating the process to help a community facing increasing financial hardship”, says Mr Annandale. 

Sowful Journeys have four main objectives which involve providing immediate relief in feeding children from families experiencing hardship within the area and capacity building workshops with a focus on organic farming practices to encourage better nutrition through buying and eating more local produce.

PC Alexia Rae

“We aim to offer one free healthy meal a day to school kids as well as programmes that demonstrate ways to prepare healthy meals with local produce” said Mr Annandale.

“With this financial support we really want to ensure that some of these changes are long term.”

Through crowdfunding, potential donors or future travelers can visit the platform to make a pledge or donation and in return receive hotel reward credits which can be redeemed towards accommodation, spa treatments, food and beverage. Donors will also have peace of mind during this time of travel restrictions and can redeem their credits at a later time when borders re-open. 

“This platform is open to locals and internationals.” adds Mr Annandale.

“Overseas customers who make a donation will have peace of mind knowing that their reward credits can be deferred to a time when international travel is possible again.”

“One of our main target markets are large companies or corporations who can give back to the community as well as provide incentives and rewards for their employees. The resort credits are quite broad so provided they are on site, people can use them for any services that we offer here.”

Mr Annandale also said the environmental arm of the Sowful Journeys project will look at developing the marine protected area in front of the Sinalei Resort and a potential green zone area marked for an organic training farm aimed at educating families on sustainable farming enterprises.

“One of the areas we want to focus on is supporting business growth amongst our smallholder farming families by creating business solutions, seeking resources and even funding to help them move towards sustainable and organic farming practices which will be better for their health and environment.”

Click here to learn more about how to Book your next Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa holiday that will help COVID-19 impacted communities.