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Apia tour operators include Am. Samoa as an excursion trip

fili@samoanews.com

Two major tour operators in Samoa have included in their tour packages excursion trips to American Samoa for visitors heading to Apia, a move that American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau executive director David Vaeafe says will boost the number of incoming tourists to Pago Pago.

Actions by Apia based Polynesian Xplorer Ltd. and Samoa Scenic — the inbound travel agent for Aggie Grey’s hotels — followed visits last year to the territory by representatives of the two companies looking at what’s available here, such as accommodations and ground tours.

Vaeafe said the two tour operators will have booths at the New Zealand 2012 Flight Centre Travel Expo, which is the largest travel show in New Zealand, set for Feb. 11- 12 in Auckland.

“Both companies are producing tour packages offering excursion trips from Apia to American Samoa and will be on display during the Travel Expo,” said Vaeafe, who noted that these two operators are providing additional exposure for American Samoa at this international event.

Vaeafe was scheduled to depart over the weekend for New Zealand to represent the territory. He will be taking with him the new visitor’s guide to American Samoa along with brochures from local hotels and tour operators.

Produced by the Visitor’s Bureau and funded with federal stimulus money, the 40-page booklet visitor’s guide is broken down into three sections: ‘Explore our Islands’, ‘Experience our Culture’; ‘Enjoy your Holiday’.

The Travel Expo is New Zealand’s most comprehensive travel show and includes representatives of airlines, tour operators, hotels and resorts, tourism boards and cruise operators from around the world, according to the organizer’s website.

Meanwhile, the Samoa government announced in a news release last week that two officials of the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) were in Pago Pago Jan. 30-31 to officially close down the Authority’s branch in the territory.

It’s been six months since the STA ceased operations in American Samoa, the release states, but didn’t say why it was being closed down. The trip here by STA officials was also an opportunity for the STA delegation to hold discussions on Marketing issues with American Samoa representatives.

When asked if he met with STA officials while on island, Vaefe said he didn’t, but that he had spoken to STA officials last December while in Apia for the Miss South Pacific Pageant board of directors’ meeting.

Discussions with STA officials centered on “doing joint marketing for the two Samoas, especially now with Samoa’s date- line change”, said Vaeafe, adding that the Visitor’s Bureau is also working with travel agents in Apia for visitors to Samoa adding a side trip to the territory. And at the same time, the local Visitor’s Bureau is working on this side of the Samoan island chain for territory visitors — especially those from the U.S. — to add a side trip to Samoa, said Vaeafe.



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