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Am. Samoa rejoins So. Pacific Tourism Organization with unanimous support

American Samoa has rejoined the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) for which they were one of the original founding members  back in the 1980’s, according to American Samoa Visitors Bureau Executive Director, David Vaeafe.


He told Samoa News in a statement that his office had held discussions with SPTO over the last couple of years on rejoining. Vaeafe stated that both the SPTO Board of Directors and Council of Tourism Ministers endorsed American Samoa’s government membership application at their annual meeting in Apia, Samoa last week.


The 23rd Council of Ministers of Tourism Meeting that Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga attended along with DOC Director Keniseli Lafaele, Attorney General Afoa L Su’esu’e Lutu and Deputy Attorney General Mitzie Jessop.


Governor Lolo’s attendance was in support of the membership application which the Council of Ministers unanimously accepted, and the Chair's official acceptance announcement were met with enthusiastic applause from all council members and staff. At the meeting, the governor stated that although American Samoa is an unorganized and unincorporated US territory, it is very much part of the Pacific and stands to benefit from being a member of the SPTO.


The governor told the participants that his presence was to demonstrate American Samoa’s keen desire, to regain its membership in this Tourism Forum, recognizing that American Samoa cannot hope to effectively advance its tourism development goals in a vacuum.


“As island micro states, with finite geographical and financial resources, it makes economic sense to pool our talents and our limited resources, to compete effectively for tourist markets traditionally dominated by metropolitan countries,” said Governor Lolo. American Samoa became the 17th government and only US Territory member of SPTO, which also has over 200 private sector members across the Pacific region.


Vaeafe said, “American Samoa is part of the South Pacific and we have a lot to learn from— and share with—our regional neighbors and tourism partners. “With us joining SPTO, we are adding a new destination that highlights the diversity of the Pacific region. We are giving more options for visitors and tourists traveling into the Pacific to stay longer and island hop around the region.”


He further stated that the strength of SPTO is its regional collaboration and public and private sector partnership approach to tourism development, which will benefit us all.


American Samoa was an original founding member of the Tourism Council of the South Pacific back in the 1980’s, the predecessor to SPTO.


Samoa Observer reported this week, that SPTO CEO Ilisoni Vuidreketi made the announcement at a press conference. “American Samoa is now a member – (so) there are now 17 member countries,” he said. “Today the Ministers welcomed and endorsed the application by American Samoa, the newest member of SPTO. In fact, the application was unanimously accepted by everyone, there was no comments just smiles and claps for accepting this application.”


According to Samoa Observer, Vuidreketi said not only is American Samoa the newest member of SPTO — it was one of its founding members when the organization was established in the 1980s. “So American Samoa was one of the founding members and now we have grown to 16 and they have come back in again to be the 17th member,” he said.