The reduction of the Samoa Tourism Authority budget was one of the issues cited on several occasions in Parliament since the deliberation of the nation’s $960 million tala budget proposed for the new financial year 2022-2023.
Chairman of Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee Faleomavaega Titimaea Tafua says the Samoa Tourism Authority has remaining funds from the previous financial year of $11 million.
It is expected to roll over to the new financial year FY 2022/2023 to make approximately $20 million for its operation. Adding that the reduction of grants as noted by several members, the Chairman commented that this was due to numerous projects at the last phase and about to complete.
As reported earlier, Member of Parliament, Tapunu’u Niko Lee Hang questioned the $10million reduction in the STA budget for the STA and cited $ 12 million reserved for STA and further queried whether this money will be for promotion of the tourism industry and the provision of packages such as; reduced airfares and hotel prices for instance which could all help attract tourists.
The STA Minister, Toesulusulu Cedric Schuster explained the $11 million unused funds by STA from the previous years due to closing of borders.
He also cited $3 million appropriated for Samoa Business Hub to assist Small businesses and resorts and hotels in their preparation for the opening of the borders and prepare for tourists coming in.
Additionally, there is $5 million with the Development Bank of Samoa to assist with businesses and STA-related activities as they reopen for tourists. Also, the Government has signed an agreement with NZ in regards to continued assistance of NZD$4.6million for the next 3 years, which is an addition to the $1.3million unused funds from the previous FY to assist with developments in the tourism industry to develop the resorts and hotels in preparation for the opening of Samoa’s international borders.
Tapunuu in the end also quesqueried the roll-over process which the Ministers have mentioned and reminded standing policies for remaining funds from previous FY’s and how these funds are returned to Treasury for proper allocation.