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California firm working on feasibility study

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, Oct. 22, 2008) - Representatives of a resort developer group, with projects all over the world, are in the territory to conduct due diligence on the feasibility of developing a resort destination in American Samoa.

The group, BSB Design of El Dorado Hill, Calif., working with Economic Resource Associates (ERA) of San Diego, Calif., arrived Sunday night from the U. S.

The developer group said they are essentially working on a study to identify economic sustainability of a resort destination in American Samoa.

The research paper they put together, sources say, will be incorporated by the government into its tourism plan.

Chamber president David Robinson told Samoa News yesterday that the group met with Gov. Togiola Tulafono during the recent American International Real Estate Expo and Conference in Los Angeles and "the group is paying for their own expenses coming here."

Robinson’s comments came following a meeting at the Governor’s Conference room where DOC director Faleseu Eliu Paopao (who also attended the Expo in Los Angeles), the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) co-chairs, with the DBAS acting president and ASDC chair were briefed by the developer group on their capabilities.

Togiola said after returning from the Expo that he had met with representatives of real estate companies regarding the Rainmaker Hotel and extended an invitation to them to visit American Samoa and see the property in person. At the time, he didn’t identify the group.

Among the issues the governor promoted at the expo was the Rainmaker Hotel, marina development, marine railway development, tramway reconstruction and Manu’a eco-tourism.

There will be a meeting today with the BSB Design and ERA group representatives and the Chamber of Commerce to discuss real estate development for the territory, said Robinson.

"The Chamber is very interested in what the group has to say about the culture aspect when it comes to tourism development, because the Samoan culture is very important as a part of such a study or plan for American Samoa’s tourism and eco-tourism development," he said.

Robinson said the group is also putting together a master plan for development and other proposals but the Chamber along with the EAC is interested in seeing if the group comes up with something new compared to the studies and plans that have already been carried out.

During today’s meeting Robinson also plans to brief the resort developer group on the Chamber’s project for the Malaloa marina. The governor had planned to develop the marina through the government but turned it over to the Chamber, who is working with an off-island company on the project.

Appearing at the Chamber meeting last Friday, the governor revealed that the government is reviewing the lease he expects to be signed in two weeks time, that would allow Robinson and the Chamber to move forward with the Malaloa marina development project.

"This development should bring a different mix of new business and new revenues," said Togiola during his Chamber presentation, noting the marina will also provide repairs for small vessels as well as long term anchoring for vessels. We’re expecting the marina will be a very substantial contribution to the local economy and we’re enthusiastic about it," said Togiola.

Robinson said yesterday the marina development, which the Chamber has been working to secure since last year, is in line with other developments in the Bay area such as the expansion and upgrade of the port and the new market currently under construction.

Robinson also revealed, for the first time, the name of the company the Chamber is working with on the marina project — Bellingham Marina. It is a US company, with an office in New Zealand.

He said it is the same company that built the marina in Apia, Samoa. The company is familiar with the region and its needs and "this makes it easy to work with the company to accomplish our specific goals in American Samoa," added Robinson.

Main developments at the marina include a dive shop, diving instruction, a fish gaming center, harbor tours, a large aquarium and other tourist related activities, he said.

Representatives of the resort developer group depart the territory Thursday.

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