Tourism Industry Welcomes Launch of Government Stimulus Assistance
The tourism sector will be receiving a much needed cash injection into their struggling businesses following the highly anticipated official launch of the Government’s $5m Tourism Stimulus Assistance 3 Package held on Thursday 2nd September at the Samoa Cultural Village.
The Tourism Stimulus Assistance 3 looks to benefit a total of 209 businesses including accommodation providers, tour operators and travel agents who have been allocated a lump sum to help towards operational costs or key priorities.
In his keynote remarks, the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Pose Schuster acknowledged the catastrophic impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on the tourism industry while giving reassurance the sector remains a key development priority of the government.
“While efforts to 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 are unsustainable for the majority of tourism businesses. “ said Toeolesulusulu.
“The lack of visitors in these challenging times has impacted on tourism businesses financially as they continue to struggle to stay afloat with the continued financial obligations. There has been an increasing number of tourism businesses which have had to close down temporarily as a result of the continued COVID-19 travel restrictions and this number will continue to grow.”
“The Government recognises the importance of the sector to the economy of Samoa and the struggles it has faced starting with the measles epidemic and now with the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 -which is why the Government has identified the $5 million tala Stimulus Assistance for the tourism industry as a key priority. It is our hope that the Stimulus will be utilised accordingly in line with the conditions set out and will be able to assist the recovery of your respective businesses during these challenging times.”
According to CEO of Samoa Tourism, Faamatuainu Lenata’i Suifua the Taskforce assigned to developing the stimulus package began consulting with the industry at the beginning of the year to understand their key priorities.
“The Tourism Stimulus Assistance 3 aims to revitalise the industry by providing capital relief to tourism operators who need assistance with maintenance works, operational costs and other key priorities. “said Faamatuainu.
“We began comprehensive consultations at the start of the year to pinpoint exactly where the need is and allocate funds accordingly based on certain criteria. After a lot of negotiations we have cleared the pathway to expedite relief funds directly to our tourism operators. “
“Government understands the urgency in providing immediate relief to the tourism sector which is why we have removed as much red tape around the distribution of funds and the aim is to disburse the funds before Christmas.
The President of the Samoa Hotel Association, Tupai Saleimoa Vaai said the cash injection from the Tourism Stimulus Assistance is a welcome relief for their members who will be able to utilise the assistance on a number of activities which includes maintenance , repair works, replacement of amenities or equipment, wage subsidies, annual fees/subscriptions, operational costs and any other priorities such as financial obligations.
“We’ve been fighting for this a long time and to the relief of most businesses it’s great to see something come of this” said Tupai. “We are thankful to the Minister of Tourism who understood that this is a direct stimulus that’s needed by the sector and the objective is to get assistance as quickly as possible. “
He added, “from our perspective we are very appreciative and hopefully this will help a few businesses who are in a critical position and keep giving hope to those who are still holding on.”