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Samoa opens up to international travel — looking to stoke the economy

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Samoa Government on Tuesday removed all its COVID-19 restrictions for travel into the country.

This was confirmed by Acting Prime Minister Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio during a special announcement on Wednesday (Samoa time).

 “Cabinet at its meeting of the 21st September 2022 has decided to remove all restrictions and related conditions from its current travel advisory to allow for the full opening of its borders.

 “These include removing of mandatory PCR or RAT results for COVID-19, as criteria to travel to Samoa. 

“Removing of the need to present evidence of vaccination such as vaccination cards as criteria to travel to Samoa.

 “Also the ceasing of testing on arrival at the Faleolo International Airport or any other port of entry into Samoa,” said Tuala.

Tuala said the Government will enforce the completion of health arrival cards and fully apply its related penalties and fees for false declarations.

“We are encouraging complying with general health hygiene practices including wearing of face masks when necessary and for this travel advisory to be effective from Thursday 22nd of September 2022.”

Samoa’s Consul General to American Samoa, Fata Brian Kaio welcomed the decision by the Samoa Cabinet.

 “As announced by the Acting Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuala Tevaga Ponifasio (DPM) [yesterday] morning.

 “I am pleased to advise that effective immediately as of to date (September 22nd, 2022 — Samoa Date) the cessation and removal of the following Covid Travel Restrictions for travel and entry into Samoa.”

Samoa started its restrictions in March 2020 when borders were closed, however last month the government reopened its borders to international travelers.

Last month the Samoa Tourism Authority announced the country was set to welcome additional flights as airlines ramped up their schedules in alignment with operational capacities, regulatory approvals and pent-up demand.

Fiji Airways will operate a 4th weekly flight from Nadi and its services will continue on to Honolulu, reinstating the direct weekly flight between Hawaii and Samoa, which the airline operated pre-COVID.

Next month, Air New Zealand will increase the number of flights from Auckland from 4 to 5. This is expected to increase to daily services from November using a mix of Airbus 321 narrow-body and Boeing 787 widebody aircraft. 

From Australia, additional Qantas flights between the eastern seaboard and Samoa’s gateway Faleolo International Airport are in the pipeline with online travel platforms displaying an expanded schedule from November that enables connectivity with the airline’s domestic and international networks.

Meanwhile Virgin Australia has ramped up promotions of its return to Samoa from March 2023. The airline is scheduled to operate 5 weekly flights using B737 aircraft -  2 x weekly from Brisbane and 3 x weekly from Sydney. 

The additional flights will provide a welcome-boost towards collective efforts to rebuild and recover Samoa’s visitor economy.