The exposure of the country's landscape and tourist attractions is perhaps the most important assets the country has to offer to gain more revenue in efforts to boost the tourism industry.
Fepuleai Dr Aleni Fepuleai introduced the idea as the current managing director for Blaqsand and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment MNRE, Geomorphology, Geology Engineering, Volcanology Consultant.
Fepuleai presented on the various benefits of geoparks in Samoa and what can be done to improve the management last Friday during the National Environment Forum.
"Geopark is designed to help the tourism revenue and to improve our mataaga not only in Upolu but also Savaii. Some of these mataaga are dry, no tourists go there because the mataaga lack scientific explanation as well as lack of English explanations of what is happening there," Fepuleai pointed out.
"Geopark is designed to help these sites to improve revenue by providing scientific explanation which go together with traditional knowledge so they can make some spices so they can attract more tourists."
He said his experience observing how the locals operate their sites and attractions encouraged the idea of geoparks and the benefits of exposing more sites for people to explore.
"When I went to explore some scenic points of attractions, there was this one spot I came to. This man operating this site was having a hard time explaining the site to tourists. But with better explanation from this project, it will help the operator's relate their traditional myths to the sites with scientific explanations that will help the tourists understand and make perfect sense of the site, the history behind it and the natural phenomena that should be understood as well. This design can make tourism industry active.”
There are areas Fepuleai said that are just sitting there without anything done to them, but they hold significant value of explanation of myths and legends. These areas he said needed to be cleaned up and make ready to be explored like volcanic areas and scenic areas which hold legends of figures in the Samoan history,
He is confident that there is a chance these will become very popular areas that will draw in many tourists.
“There is no denying in the fact that many people will be made aware and become informed of the richness of the natural landscape as well for them to explore and enjoy. I am sure this will greatly benefit the owners and boost income for their families."
Fepuleai said that there are many potential geopark sites in both Savaii and Upolu and that the geoheritage components plays a significant role in the Geopark project. How these g eoparks are links between geology and communities, with lushness of their stories, culture and history which can possibly accommodate rural areas with jobs as well as reservation of these areas.
An area that the Geopark project contributed to its improvement and development is the Matavanu Zone which has unique features of the volcanic crater.
Other roles that geoparks can help provide is the sustainability of significantly crucial areas that have renown legends like Mt Vaea as well as home to several bird species.
Fepuleai is looking forward to the positive changes the project will make.