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reporters@samoanews.com

OUTDOOR SIREN WARNING SYSTEM TESTED TOMORROW

Local Department of Homeland Security director Mike Sala reminds the public that the monthly territory-wide testing of the outdoor emergency siren system for the month of May will be conducted tomorrow (May 4) at 12noon.

This is the monthly siren test which is held on the first Friday of every month. “Do not be alarmed if you hear the emergency sirens this Friday at noon. It is only a test,” he said.

MORE REFUND CHECKS FOR THE COMMUNITY

Some $7 million in new money has flowed into the community since late January this year thanks to tax refund checks released by the Treasury Department. The department has been releasing refund checks every two weeks, since mid March — according to Samoa News’ trace.

The latest batch (number 8) in tax refund checks was released Monday totaling $756,732 — with $274,705 in local refunds and $482,027 for Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) — which is funded by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. This batch of refunds are for tax payers who filed up to Mar. 5th.

Overall total of refund checks released since January now stands at $7.05 million with $2.53 million in local and $4.51 million, said Melvin Joseph, Tax Office Manager.

Speaking on his radio program two weekends ago, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said tax refund checks provide additional buying power for local consumers. He said this money, which circulates back into the local community, has boosted the local economy during these difficult financial times for many residents.

AMERICAN SAMOA TOURISM AT FIJI TOURISM TRADE

The American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau is representing the local tourism industry at next week’s annual Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE) event in Nadi, Fiji, along with Tradewinds Hotel, the locally based company is attending BFTE for the first time.

Set for May 7-11th BFTE is a showcase of the South Pacific's tourism industry where international travel buyers meet industry members to negotiate contracts for the coming year and this year 150 buyers from Europe, the America's, Asia, and Oceania have registered to attend.

“Our target or focus market of this event, is Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and the United States,” Visitor’s Bureau executive director David Vaeafe said yesterday in a brief phone interview with Samoa News. “These are the countries that do a lot of the selling of the South Pacific destinations and we keep after them.”

This is the third year that American Samoa will be represented by the Visitor’s Bureau at the BFTE and Vaeafe said in the bureau’s e-newsletter for May that BFTE event “provides us with the opportunity to update off shore partners on what is taking place on island as well as forging new partnerships with wholesalers and airlines.”

“Tradewinds Hotel is joining us this year and the ASVB will represent other industry members who could not attend,” he said.

Vaeafe told Samoa News that American Samoa will providing an extra incentive to off-island wholesalers this year and he is presenting this on behalf of the local tour and hotel operators.

“Our local partners — tour and hotel operators — are now offering commission to wholesalers through various tour/travel packages,” said Vaeafe. “This followed our training program last year where rates were produced through a package and link up with off-shore wholesalers selling American Samoa as a great tourist destination.”

“Now tour operators and hotels in the territory are offering commissions for these wholesalers, that will make  it more attractive for the wholesalers to sell American Samoa,” said Vaeafe, who added that Tradewinds has established partnership with off-island wholesalers and offering commission rates and continue to built relations.

Some of the areas of the training program, which was made possible with funding from stimulus money, include drawing up contracts, learning about international distribution systems by working with travel wholesalers, airlines and off shore partners; and tourism marketing and promotion.

Besides American Samoa and Fiji, other island countries and territories showcasing their tourism product at the BFTE includes Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tahiti and New Caledonia.

LAWMAKERS THANK ASPA FOR FIRE HYDRANTS

Tualauta Reps. Larry Sanitoa and Tapumanaia Galu Satele, in a letter last week to Taylor Savusa, thanked the manager of the ASPA Water Division for completing the fire hydrant installations in the Mesepa and Faleniu areas, which have been a long standing concern from residents of these villages.

“The completed work is a welcome relief and comfort to many home owners in this particular area, as they recall an unfortunate incident when a fire truck was unable to reach a burning house in their vicinity due to lack of hydrants,” the letter states.

“These new hydrants will be of great help to the residents and fire department,” the letter noted, saying that this project would not have been possible without funding from the ASG Stimulus Office.

Fire hydrants  for these two villages are among the many Tualauta projects that the two lawmakers have been pushing for over the past several months.



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