Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Slow hospitality experiences: A case study of family holidays at beach fale in Samoa
Heike Annette Schanzel

Last modified: 2018-07-02


In Samoa, customarily most of its tourism accommodation is locally owned and operated. As an alternative livelihood strategy to increasingly foreign owned large hotels and resorts, local families have built low-cost beach fale accommodation (consisting of thatched beach huts) in prime side locations. These beach fale, traditionally frequented by the backpacker market, are proving increasingly popular with visiting families from overseas. Many families are no longer satisfied with traditional sun and sea resort holidays but want to expose their children to more holistic living with a slower pace and deeper connection to place and people or what has become known as slow tourism or in this case slow hospitality. A major attraction at these beach fale is the local food and cultural experiences. Yet only a superficial understanding of the tourists’ perspective exists on food preferences and beach fale experiences, especially for families with children. There have been several development studies on fale operations but none on the demand side of the growing international family tourism market. This presentation provides insights into the neglected social hospitality experiences of families offered at beach fale compared to commercial coastal resorts in Samoa. This exploratory study is based on 10 semi-structured whole family group interviews conducted with New Zealand and Australian families (30 parents, grand-parents and children (aged 7-18)). The findings support a trend towards families looking to have more culturally immersive, culinary explorative and socially interactive experiences on holiday that are more akin to the Samoan way of life or fa’a Samoa. Beach fale tourism provides culturally richer and sensually deeper experiences as part of slow hospitality offering not only a more memorable but also sustainable alternative to commercial resorts for families.

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