Samoa Airways has started hosting an Instagram campaign featuring bikini-clad models as the measles epidemic worsens in its home country.

Maxim magazine models are shown at different locations in the country on the Samoa Airways account in posts which started appearing last night saying the ''team are having a gorgeous time shooting in #beautifulSamoa this week.''

This comes as the death toll from the measles epidemic has risen to 60, with five deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

The country's Government says travel between Upolu and Savaii is prohibited during the state of emergency closure period later this week.

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The death toll from the measles epidemic has risen to 60, with five deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

While tourists are still welcome, travellers must have checked their vaccination status and that they get immunised if they haven't before travel.

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On Thursday and Friday most Government offices and public services will shut down to help the mass vaccination effort.

The tourist sector is still functioning, with a declaration from the Samoan Government saying that all civil aviation services and hotels and accommodation services are functioning.

The models began filming in Samoa this week according to the Instagram posts. Photo / Supplied
The models began filming in Samoa this week according to the Instagram posts. Photo / Supplied

While the models appear to now be on a private island resort they were at the To Sua Ocean Trench on the most populous island of Upolu during the first day of shooting.

Comment has been sought from the airline and Samoa's tourist authority - which is also tagged into the posts - on their involvement.

Typically airlines and tourist organisations provide travel support and other help for such photo shoots.

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The models praise the airline in the comments and in an airline Instagram story it shows behind the scenes of photo shoots - along with information what supplies are urgently needed for a medical drive.

Comment has also been sought from Maxim Australia which promotes itself as being about ''girls, cars, tech, tools, videos'' and ''the best thing to happen to men since women.''

New Zealand advertising and marketing expert Ben Goodale said his gut feeling was that the campaign was bad timing.

''In an ideal world I would have delayed the campaign.''

The glossiness of the models jarred with tragedy of the measles epidemic.

However, campaigns were booked months in advance and it was important to push destinations coming into booking periods.

''You can get caught between a rock and a hard place but no matter what I would not want to run a tourism campaign when there's a national emergency going on,'' said Goodale.

Following the March mosque attacks Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand paused their global digital advertising.