Samoa is the preferred holiday destination for Sue Pope and Graham Seddon from Waiheke Island, New Zealand.
It’s their third trip to Samoa and they are already planning another one next year.
Sue has been travelling around the Pacific and reckons she has enjoyed Samoa the most out of all of them. The absence of the non-touristy parts of Samoa and the authenticity of Samoans and their culture continues to bring the New Zealand couple back to the island.
About four years ago they visited Samoa for the first time and have since then found their way back. They have noticed changes such as more infrastructure in town, traffic lights and more cars in Samoa. But it is the atmosphere, which they find appealing, as it makes the island different from the others.
“It didn’t change overall that much and I hope it never does not like Waiheke, where we live,” he said.
Based on their own experiences from Waiheke, the couple said they can relate to Samoa being marketed as a tourism destination. The key is to find the right balance in terms of business, economics and tourists and still have that authentic experience.
“The locals they need the income and job opportunities,” Sue said.
As Samoa is in the early stages of its development as a tourism destination, Sue said locals and residents have not grown tired of seeing tourists like in Fiji. Therefore, locals and residents are “authentically friendly”, which according to Sue can make a lot of difference.
In terms of their safety, they said they felt safe walking around Apia, as there is a large police presence. The couple said Samoa is a relaxing destination and provides an opportunity to take a break and enjoy the warm climate.
“It depends what expectation visitors bring in the country. There is probably enough to do but I guess in terms of advertising and giving out information there is still some improvement possible,” Sue added.
The couple is staying at the Samoan Outrigger Hotel in Fales and plan to return to Samoa.