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First Direct Flight from China to Samoa arrives to rousing welcome

By Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – 29 MAY 2023: The 200 plus Chinese tourists on the inaugural direct commercial flight from China to Samoa landed to a warm welcome at the Faleolo International Airport last night. The eleven hour long flight operated by Hainan Airlines originated at the Haikou Meilan International Airport and touched down about 7.00 last night.

Miss Samoa and the Samoa Tourism Authority dancers put on a rousing and warm welcome that had the tourists cameras well occupied at documenting their first cultural and personal experience of their South Pacific tropical island destination.

This is the first in a series of charter flights confirmed over the coming months in a collaboration between the Hong Kong based Travel Focus and the Samoan iconic Aggie Greys Hotel that aims to provide a bridge for tourism, trade and exports between the two countries.

Direct flight launch
Direct flight launch

Associate Ministers Faleomavaega Dickie Tafua, Niuava Malolo Eti and Maiava Fuimaono Tito with the STA Board member Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai joining Travel Focus officials at the direct flights launch in China on Saturday night.

The first direct flight brought mainly business people from China and is a major achievement that has been 10 years in the making that included the signing of the Air Rights Agreement between Samoa and China in 2015.

Weekly flights have been booked for the next month and will be a boost to the local tourism industry with nine hotels around Apia to host the incoming guests and in gearing up to major upcoming international conferences such as the Heads of the Commonwealth Governments (CHOGM) Meeting in October 2024.

The guests on these direct flights will stay in Samoa for eight days before they next flight brings in another group of tourists and the return flights from Samoa to China are available for travel and cargo.

The return flights present a unique opportunity not only for direct travel from Apia to mainland China but also for Samoan export products for the vast Chinese market.

Hainan aircraft
Hainan aircraft

The Hainan Airlines flight HU435 landing at Felolo Airport last night.

The organisers of the direct flights acknowledge the significant support from the Government of Samoa, the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster and the CEO and Staff of the Samoa Tourism Authority in this collaboration.

Three Associate Ministers, Faleomavaeag Dickie Tafua, Niuava Eti Malolo and Maiava Fuimaono Tito and Board member of the Samoa Tourism Authority, Tupa’i Saleimoa Vaai were guests at the official launch of the direct flights in China on Saturday and were among the guests on the inaugural flight.

All the guests have been medically cleared for Covid-19 and the Flu before boarding the flight.

A full tour programme included an Ava Welcome ceremony and visits to the Samoa Tourism Cultural Village, food tasting and visits to Samoa’s iconic sites of historic and cultural significance and includes a tour of Savaii Island.

STA Stringband
STA Stringband

The Samoa Tourism Authority’s Stringband performing for the visitors on the inaugural direct flights arrival last night.