Until 1965, official policy in Samoa was opposed to tourism, but during 1966–67 there was a complete reversal of policy. The government hired international tourist consultants to advise it on long-term means of developing a tourist industry. Samoa joined the Pacific Area Travel Association, extended tax holidays and import-duty concessions to hotel building, and appropriated money for the building of new hotels.
The major tourist attractions are the beaches and traditional villages. In Apia is Vailima, the residence of the head of state and once the home of Robert Louis Stevenson; Stevenson's grave is nearby. Pastimes include swimming, water skiing, and fishing. Soccer and cricket are popular local sports.
In 2000, there were 72,895 tourist arrivals and tourism expenditures totaled $40 million. That year there were 763 hotel rooms. The estimated cost of staying in was $204 per day, according to 2000 US government estimates.