Mid- to High-end Tourism Development in Samoa
As a Small Island Developing State, Samoa faces specific development challenges related to its small size, vulnerability, lack of resources and isolation. Tourism has been identified by the United Nations as a key economic driver in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and has grown in importance as a development strategy because of its potential to create employment, generate foreign exchange and encourage investment. There is criticism however that tourism in SIDS experiences significant economic leakages and a dominance of foreign investment and ownership, which can minimise local economic gain. Samoa is a SIDS where tourism has enabled the economy to diversify, and it has contributed to economic growth. Literature on tourism development in Samoa has focused primarily on beach fale accommodation, which occupies predominantly the budget sub-sector of the tourism industry. This thesis focuses on the mid- to high-end of the tourism industry as an area which has not received significant research attention to date. The research overviews the nature and the development of the mid- to high-end tourism sub-sector, and assesses its potential role in the diversification of the Samoan economy. As neoliberal policies have become entrenched in economic development theory, tourism has benefitted from open economies and increased foreign investment. Thus, the role of the private tourism sector in fostering economic growth is an important aspect to consider in the Samoan context, which is emphasised in Samoa’s strategic policy foci. The impact of development of this nature is assessed with regards to its potential contribution to the Samoan economy, through assessing the nature of ownership, employment, and the potential for economic linkages. As an industry that is still developing, the barriers that exist in this tourism sub-sector are identified and discussed. By assessing a range of features, the potential of this industry sub-sector can be established, and its effectiveness as a tool for economic growth and development determined. Research was undertaken involving both mid- to high-end tourism operators in Samoa and visitors, drawing information gained from Key Informant interviews, questionnaires and document analysis. Recommendations regarding the mid- to high end tourism subsector were developed from the findings of this research and consideration of the operating environment for tourism in Samoa.
Advisor: Nel, Etienne
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Samoa; Development; Tourism Development; Small Island Developing States; High-end Tourism; Economic Diversification
Research Type: Thesis