A major topic of discussion at the 2nd Pacific Agribusiness Forum in Samoa this week is increasing island grown food and drinks that’s served to tourists.
The CEO of the Samoa Tourism Authority Papalii Sonya Hunter reports that Samoa has been able to retain some of the $43 million (US$17 million) that tourists to Samoa spend on food and drinks.
In 2015 Samoa spent $US85 million on food imports of which 20% or $43 million was for imported fruits, vegetables, meat and fish for the tourism industry.
Based on 2013 international visitor survey numbers, tourists spend $96 million (US$38 million) on food and drinks, which is 26% of total tourism earnings of $366 million (US$146 million) a year.
Papalii said they were looking for ways to capture some of that money at home instead of spending it on bringing in overseas food and drinks for tourists, when renowned chef Robert Oliver “fell in our lap.”
Oliver was researching Samoan recipes for his regional cook book Me’a Kai.
Samoa jumped on board and made sure the first chapter presented Samoan recipes and all of the images were from and of Samoan food.
Papalii says people in government must be enablers and choose their development partners wisely to ensure their needs and priorities are met.
She said, “Don’t pick partners who will just write a report , flaunt it then go do a project in Africa or somewhere.”
She told the 120 delegates attending to pick partners who “ believe we can get there and hand hold us until we get there.”
Other than Oliver’s cook book , culinary training has also been provided which according to the STA CEO led to the successful catering of major international events in Samoa such as the Small Islands Developing States Conference and the Commonwealth Youth Games.
Previously tenders would go to overseas groups for the supply of food and drinks for such major events. TALENEI NEWS/PACNEWS [/restrict]