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APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 29) – Glasses of champagne were raised in a toast at the recent launching of the Diploma of Tourism, the first certificate of its kind at Samoa Polytechnic.

"I think this program meets all the needs of the education sector, because it is providing a needed tertiary education," said Beverly Barlow, manager of Aggie Grey's Hotel's Business Centre and Marketing Coordinator. "It meets the Polytech manifesto, which is to provide educated people for the community. It will also provide much needed resources for the fastest growing economic sector in the community."

Samoa Tourism Authority says there has been a steady increase in tourism to Samoa in the past five years. From 2002 to 2003, Samoa saw a 3.8 percent increase in tourism.

Minister of Education Fiame Naomi Mataafa and Minister of Tourism Hans Joachim Keil joined events to celebrate the start of the new program.

The launching was held at Visions Restaurant at Samoa Polytechnic.

"I think the tourism industry has been crying out for employees who have particular skills, those relating to the tourism industry," said Mrs Barlow.

The two-year diploma program has a strong focus on the Samoan culture.

It offers a wide range of courses, including tour guiding, travel operations and airline ticketing.

Said Tupe Tagomoa Isara, Head of Tourism at Samoa Polytechnic: "This program is designed to build the capacity of the future workforce in the tourism sector and better equip them with the skills and knowledge that helps them with finding employment in the tourism industry."

This is the first program of its kind in Samoa. It was created from a need that the tourism industry expressed for better-trained employees in 1999.

Margaret Ryan, Chairperson of the Tourism Industry Advisory Panel, said: "There are lots of job opportunities for trained personnel with a diploma in tourism."

February 1, 2005

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