New airlines to boost American Samoa tourism industry
American Samoa's Visitors Bureau says welcoming new airlines to the territory can boost tourism.
The American Samoa Visitors Bureau says the possibility of new airlines flying to the territory is part of plans to develop the tourism industry.
The governor, Lolo Matalasi Molinga, has announced he will be writing to Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue Australia, Fiji Airways and possibly airlines from Asia to extend services to Pago Pago.
Currently the only carriers that fly to American Samoa are Hawaiian Air, Polynesian Airlines and Inter Island Air.
The Executive Officer of the Visitors Bureau, David Vaeafe, told Beverley Tse about the benefits of additional airline services.
DAVID VAEAFE: One of our key mandates in terms of developing our tourism market is to look at attracting other carriers or a carrier to the territory with tourism now being one of the main key economic drivers for the territory. Part and parcel of that development requires us looking at our transportation systems and so forth. And as identified by our Tourism Masterplan 2010, there's a need to look at another carrier in terms of bringing more people to the territory.
BEVERLEY TSE: Do you think having more airlines fly to American Samoa will actually guarantee the boost of visitors to the territory?
DV: It's not only visitors, but also in terms of business, as well. American Samoa does import a lot of commodities from around the world - New Zealand, Australia, the US. But, yes, there is an opportunity here, there is a market here and so forth. My office and myself, we've spoken with a couple of airlines, throwing out ideas of ways to do things.
BT: And do you think by having additional airlines flying to the territory the airline prices will be cheaper?
DV: Yes, it's like anything. If there's competition and so forth eventually the prices do come down. But in terms of American Samoa we're starting from scratch. We're a destination that's only just had packaging in place out of the New Zealand marketplace and that's packaging either directly from New Zealand or as an add-on to Samoa only for the last year. So it's all about a big learning curve, as well, in terms of developing our tourism market.
BT: Now, I understand that there is in existence a cabotage law which prohibits foreign carriers from flying to American Samoa. Do you think this will pose an issue?
DV: Well, the cabotage law has been in for some time now and was set up to protect US carriers. So no foreign carrier can pick up from one US point and drop off at another. We do have some exemptions on cabotage in terms of cargo and our new governor and our new administration, along with our congress, we've all been working with Washington DC to look at this and to see what concessions we can have and look at changing the cabotage or changing the regulations for American Samoa.
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