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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 7,) – The Samoa government has decided to capitalize on the current growth of tourism by allocating more funds to the industry in order to drive growth in other sectors of the economy.

A total of US$3.2 million is allocated in the new financial year budget for the Tourism Authority, an increase of 80 percent compared to last year

The Minister of Finance, Niko Lee Hang, says the joint venture between the government and Virgin Blue has had considerable impact on the country’s tourism since it was launched in October 2005.

The first year alone saw an increase in tourism earnings and a profit of around US$1 million.

The finance minister says the success is attributed to the penetration of the Australian and New Zealand markets by the national airline, Polynesian Blue, where those markets have grown by 33.2 percent and 18.8 percent respectively.

According to Lee Hang, tourism receipts could reach US$1 billion during the life of the current tourism plan.

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