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Visitors Bureau successfully markets territory to Europe

The American Samoa Visitors Bureau continues to sell the territory as a destination for international travelers and its efforts to create another primary industry for our economically strapped islands appear to be gaining ground.

Besides a record number of cruise ships visiting our port this year ASVB's executive director David Vaeafe reports that a European tour operator, which currently includes neighboring Samoa on its tour packages for frequent individual travelers, is now looking to include American Samoa in its worldwide tour brochures for 2013 - 2014

“We have to create and build relationships with the tour and travel industry around the world,” said Vaeafe.

“This is something that we need to do and this is just the starting point of American Samoa’s work to be included in tourist brochures by overseas tour operators,” Vaeafe told Samoa News on Thursday.

The Best of Travel Group with offices throughout Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria is now looking at using American Samoa for a two-day excursion for tourists heading to Samoa.

This tour company caters to European tourists, who travel all over the world said Vaeafe and its South Pacific Product Manager Indra Waldbuesser visited Tutuila for one day last month at the invitation of the Visitor’s Bureau and Samoa based inbound tour operator Polynesian Xplorer.

Waldbuesser met Vaeafe at the Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE)  travel and tourism trade show in Fiji earlier last month where the invitation was extended and through Polynesian Xplorer the one day visit was arranged.  Waldbuesser also met Olataga Toa from Tradewinds Hotel at the same trade show.

During her one-day visit to the territory, Waldbuesser toured the island with North Shore Tours operator Rory West and also made a site visit to the Tradewinds Hotel.

Waldbuesser communicated with Vaeafe via e-mail after she left the territory describing Tutuila's nature and scenery as “absolutely beautiful” and she would work with Polynesian Xplorer— their inbound tour operator in Samoa— to look at adding a 2-day excursion option of American Samoa to be included in their 2013/14 South Pacific Islands brochure

“Indra told me that she had a fabulous time during the one-day visit to American Samoa. She also stated that she loved and enjoyed the scenery and the nature,” said Vaeafe.

Polynesian Xplorer has included American Samoa on its brochures and has been promoting the territory since early this year, including a major European travel show in Berlin, Germany, said Vaeafe.

“When we met with Indra in Fiji she was very interested in adding a new destination in their portfolio and the invitation was given to her to come over for the day,” said Vaeafe. “Reaching out to overseas tour and travel operators is part of our territory’s tourism master plan and we have lobbied with these overseas operators for inclusion in their brochure as a destination.”

“Our inclusion in brochures overseas will gradually grow as we continue to reach out to other partners in the region, especially our neighbors in Samoa for their assistance,” he said.

The Best of Travel Group specializes in tailor-made trips to Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia, South America, South Pacific, North America and the Antarctic.  Their South Pacific destinations include Fiji, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and French Polynesia. 

 In other tourism news, Vaeafe said a group of up to 15 travel agents from New Zealand will be in the territory from July 20-21 on a familiarization trip.  The Visitors Bureau will host the group at a special get-together.   

Later in the year, travel and tour operator representatives from Australia and the U.S. will also be visiting Pago Pago. The familiarization program is geared towards promoting the territory as a tourist destination and is funded under a new program by the U.S. Department of Interior.