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The million-tala question for Pacific tourism

The aviation industry is paramount to increasing tourism numbers in Samoa but it is an ongoing problem with no apparent solution.It is a long running issue, not only for Samoa but for holiday destinations across the region wide. Last week, the issue was again debated among the South Pacific Tourism Organisation members in Apia.Despite the discussion, no decision was reached on how to move forward with the issue – leaving only the million tala question - do islands market more to bring the holiday makers here, thus increasing flights to the islands, or do they cut back on marketing and instead channel that money in again subsidising flights, again making Samoa and the other islands an option for long haul tourists?SPTO CEO Illisoni Vuidreketi said one of the crucial items endorsed by the Ministers at their 23rd South Pacific Council of Ministers’ of Tourism Meeting, was the challenge aviation presented to regional tourism.“Of aviation difficulties in air access it was presented to the organisat ion (SPTO) to look at ways for addressing aviation in the region,” he said.“As you al l know tourism ties in all the time with aviation and the inability of some of the countries to move forward will be caused by the lack or limited capacity in airlines coming to their countries.“So that is one of the issues that we have been given to pursue in the next couple of years.”Mr. Vuidreketi said the issue of airline access has been challenging for the region for many years.“We have the airlines on one side who are looking at the viability of routes and then we have the tourism industry who are crying out for more tourists to come to their islands,” he said.