|dc.description.abstract||Poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods, culture, and development are inextricably linked in the Pacific context. Development in the region has historically focused on commercialisation of agriculture, resource extraction, and various forms of industrialisation. In recent decades the role of tourism has increased. In fact, it is potentially one of the most viable economic livelihood options. Tourism growth in Samoa has averaged 5.1% over the past decade with projected growth rates between 5-10%. In addition, corresponding increases in foreign exchange earnings and employment (over 10% of jobs are now in tourism), highlights the importance of tourism in the Samoan economy, hence as a livelihood strategy. However, negative impacts of tourism must be considered and managed. Thus, exploring the dynamics of tourism as a developmental tool is essential, for small island states and development agencies, to ensure resources and funding are used wisely and efficiently.
The research explores strengths and weaknesses of family owned beach fale in rural Samoa. A case study of beach fale enterprises between the villages of Lepa and Lalomanu in SE Upolu was the focus. The research provided insight into the operational structure of fale businesses and their relationship with the socio-cultural and economic domains that exist.
Beach fale businesses are a livelihood option for those with beach access. They have evolved from Samoa's culture and natural resources. The research revealed both strengths and weaknesses of beach fale businesses. The strengths of these family owned enterprises revolve around compatibility. Compatibility in this context includes social, cultural, and environmental components. The weaknesses of beach fale businesses occur on two levels: micro and macro. On a micro level, management (i.e. cash management and education), links to markets, and family dysfunctional issues are examples of weak points. On a macro level, beach fale businesses are susceptible to natural disasters, international tourism issues, national infrastructure limitations, competition, and the national marketing campaign.
The research also identified awareness and acceptance of differing 'business styles' as a critical factor for beach fale success. For greater success to occur, awareness and acceptance of the different business styles (i.e. palagi and fa'aSamoa) is necessary. The inclusion of culture with cash management decisions is not common and may not be easy, but the research suggests for rural beach fale business to meet their full potential, fa'aSamoan cultural attributes must be incorporated.
Another factor identified is beach fale evolution, from traditional open fale structures to enclosed bungalows. The desire of beach fale owners and the evolution of fale need to match; otherwise, discontent and the loss of this niche market will occur. Samoa's national marketing campaign must reflect and support this niche market if it is to survive and not evolve into 'bungalows on the beach', a product offered by many other island nations.
The final concepts identified focus on constraints requiring immediate attention to improve beach fale business success. A lack of coordination was evident, threatening the viability of the beach fale industry. Linkages between beach fale operators and resources, is very weak. Fale business livelihoods are varied, hence require customised solutions. A central figure to help coordinate resources and advise beach fale businesses individually is lacking.
The route forward should focus on factors within Samoan control and include economic, environmental and cultural components. A balanced community approach which includes all stakeholders is most prudent. While macro-level influences are largely beyond the control of Samoa, they still require attention to guide decisions made about the tourism industry within Samoa and to avoid over-dependency on the tourism sector.
Aligning these actions with Samoa's tourism vision, building on culture, fa'aSamoa, and fale, while addressing constraints to success, will yield a more broadly viable livelihood option. Reliance on tourism has long term macro-economic and environmental risks. Thus, it would be prudent to rely on beach fale tourism as a bridge on the pathway of development, not as a destination of development.||en