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NZ High Commish visits territory on fact-finding trip

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is exploring with three Pacific airlines the possibility of extending their air service to the territory, which will help boost tourism development and improve exports from the region, says the governor's executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira.


Lolo shared his interest in the Pacific carriers during a meeting last Thursday morning with New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Jackie Frizelle who is also the Consul General for American Samoa.  Frizelle paid a courtesy visit to the governor following an afternoon meeting with Chamber of Commerce leaders as well as officials of New Zealand-based businesses in the territory — like McConnell Dowell.


Responding to Samoa News questions on the reason for the New Zealand diplomat’s visit and the issues discussed with the governor, Iulogologo said Frizelle’s  visit is primarily fact-finding, trying to understand the economy of American Samoa to determine how mutual cooperation could be fashioned between New Zealand and American Samoa.


Frizelle shared with the governor New Zealand's investments in the reconstruction of tourist facilities destroyed by a tsunami this year.  Additionally, she seemed pleased with Samoa's aggressiveness on the development of tourism and wondered about American Samoa's tourism development initiatives.


“The governor informed her that tourism development is one of the topics on the agenda for the summit between the two Samoas if the talks do materialize next year”, said Iulogologo. “Cooperation and collaboration between the two Samoas is a must, given our geographic remoteness, limited visitors, grossly inadequate air transportation, and stiff global competition for tourists.”


Lolo informed the High Commissioner that he is engaging in various initiatives to mitigate some of the noted barriers to tourism development for American Samoa, which naturally impacts Samoa as well.


One of these initiatives is to explore with Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue Australia, and Fiji Airways (formerly known as Air Pacific) possible extension of their routes to American Samoa, said Iulogologo.


Samoa News should point out Fiji Airways currently provides weekly service between Nadi, Fiji and Honolulu via Apia, Samoa.


Iulogologo said the governor also informed Frizelle that American Samoa used to obtain a steady supply of fresh fruits and meat from New Zealand when there were connecting flights between American Samoa and New Zealand.


(Many years ago, Pago Pago was the stop over for flights to and from other Pacific countries including New Zealand on Pan American Airways.)


“With the termination of this route, American Samoa is forced to rely on frozen fresh fruits from the States,” said Iulogologo, based on what the governor told Frizelle. “The High Commissioner offered assistance with regards to paving the way for possible meetings with the chief executive officers of these airlines serving the Pacific.”


Frizelle relayed to the governor the assistance from New Zealand to Samoa for next year's world meeting and one of these aids is to have a cruise ship in Apia harbor to accommodate some of the participants.


Samoa is hosting in September 2014, some 2,000 officials at the global United Nations Conference on Small Islands Developing States, which was first announced earlier this year.


At the conclusion of the meeting, the governor thanked Frizelle for calling on him and extending a helping hand with issues generating mutual benefits for American Samoa and New Zealand.


Iulogologo said Frizelle  acknowledged the fact that some of the New Zealand companies are doing well in American Samoa and she extended her government’s appreciation to Lolo for allowing these New Zealand companies to conduct business in American Samoa.


Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Chamber of Commerce chairman David Robinson said the main purpose of Frizelle’s visit was to familiarize herself with the “political and commercial activities” in the territory and meet with New Zealand businessmen and local companies with suppliers in New Zealand.


During the meeting with the Chamber, he said matters discussed included potential opportunities in fisheries, agriculture, small boat building, supplies of foodstuff, geothermal energy developments, the construction industry, and tourism.


Robinson said Frizelle plans to visit the territory again early next year and spend more time following up on some of the potential developments where the New Zealand High Commission staff in Apia “could evaluate some form of commercial assistance.”


He added that the Chamber will be following up on matters discussed during this first visit and they will be making preparations to assist with subsequent visits.


A career diplomat, Frizelle was appointed last November and took over the post this past February. New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister,  Murray McCully said at the time that Frizelle has extensive experience in the Pacific and will bring an impressive mix of strategic and practical skills to her new role.


Prior to her current post, Frizelle served as  Director of Strategy and Effectiveness for the New Zealand Aid Programme at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.