Tourism, Remittances Decline In Samoa

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Country’s top two foreign exchange earners down

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Nov. 10, 2012) – Tourism earnings and remittances, dubbed as the country’s "two major foreign exchange sources" declined in August this year. Whereas tourism revenues decreased by $5.6million compared to 2011, remittances declined by $3.2million compared to the same period last year.

The Central Bank of Samoa’s latest Tourism and Remittance report says the decline reflects "to some extent seasonal trends and the prevailing economic conditions in the main source markets."

Here is the report in full:

Tourist Arrivals and Tourism Earnings

The number of international visitors in August 2012 declined 31 percent to 10,430 and was six percent lower then in August 2011.

Decreased arrivals were recorded for all the main source markets, with huge reductions for New Zealand, American Samoa, Australia and USA.

Lower arrivals were noticeable for those on ‘holiday’, ‘visiting friends and relatives’ and travellers arriving for ‘businesses and conferences’; the latter mainly due to a return to normal levels, after several major church conferences in July 2012.

The lower number of arrivals more than offset to a seasonal 16 percent increase in average spending per tourist, reducing total tourism revenues by 19 percent ($5.6 million) to $23.3 million in August 2012.

And, when compared to a year ago, tourism proceeds in the month under review were 4 percent lower on account of lower tourist arrivals contrary to higher averaged spending over the year.

Private Remittance

Private remittances declined nine percent ($3.2million) to $33.8 million in August 2012, but were 6 percent higher than a year ago.

Accounting for this month’s lower remittances were decreased inflows from all the four main sources – USA, Australia, New Zealand and American Samoa.

Much of the reduction reflected decreases in transfers for individual households as well as for charitable organisations while transfers for churches rose in August 2012.

For the first two months of 2012/13, total private remittances were 8 percent higher at $70.8 million, compared to $62.9 million in the same period of 2011/12.

The formal channel of receiving remittances continued to be dominated by Money Transfer Operators (MTO’s), although its overall share shrank another 1 percentage point to account for 68 percent of total private remittances in August 2012. The remaining 32 percent represented remittances received through the commercial banks.

On the cost of remitting funds to Samoa from New Zealand in August 2012 (taken from the Send Money Pacific Website), the two cheapest rats (as a percentage of the amount remitted) were offered by KLickEX’s online services, with its Low Priority and Priority options charging costs of 1.0 percent and 2.0 percent respectively. For regular non-internet based MTOs’ in New Zealand, the lowest cost of sending NZD$200 to Samoa in August 2012 was through Money Gram at 6.6 percent of the remitted money. Westpac’s Express Card (Global Alliance ATM) was again the cheapest form of remitting money to Samoa for the banking system at 10.0 percent of the total remitted amount; an increase however from 8.9 percent in July 2012.

For funds sent from Australia, again KLickEx’s Low Priority and Priority options offered the lowest cost options of 2.0 percent and 3.0 percent respectively; followed by Digicel Mobile Money with a 6.0 percent fee.

Of the regular MTOs in Australia, the lowest cost of sending AUD$200 was offered by IMEX Money Transfer with a fee of 6.5 percent while ANZ’s Pacific Money Transfer Card (BPAY) offered 11.2 percent, the lowest fee for the second consecutive month for the banking system.

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