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Master plan being fund by Interior Department

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, America Samoa (Samoa News, June 4, 2009)—A U.S. firm that specializes in resort development with projects all over the world has been awarded the contract to prepare an "American Samoa Tourism Master Plan" which was bid out several weeks ago.

Chief Procurement Officer Pat Tervola yesterday informed bidders he has awarded the Tourism Master Plan contract to BSB Design, which is homebased in El Dorado Hill, Calif.

The request for proposal (RFP) attracted three off-island and six local bids, which were then presented to a six-member source evaluation board (SEB) for review.

Last October, BSB officials were in the territory for a site visit and the company is working with Economic Resource Associates (ERA) of San Diego, Calif.

At the time, the developer group said they were essentially working on a study to identify the economic sustainability of a resort destination in American Samoa.

Funding for the contract of more than $400,000 came from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.

Chamber of Commerce president David Robinson told Samoa News yesterday that he believes BSB "will do a good job as this is their type of business, which includes developing tourism facilities — which goes well in hand with the move to redevelop the Rainmaker Hotel."

Robinson said officials of BSB had joined Gov. Togiola Tulafono and local Department of Commerce officials during April’s sponsored Interior Department business conference opportunity, in Honolulu, to make American Samoa’s presentation.

One of the local firms that submitted a proposal for the RFP was Marina Development Limited — whose president is Robinson — to develop the Malaloa Marina. The company began work on this project after a lease agreement was signed with ASG earlier this year.

The marina is one of the key areas of development cited in the RFP for a tourism master plan and Robinson said Marina Development submitted a proposal just for the marina itself, adding that Tervola had informed him of the bid award to BSB Design.

He said there was no mention at all of the issue dealing with Malaloa Marina. Tervola was off-island yesterday and Samoa News was unable to obtain any comments at press time.

The Commerce Department — in an amendment submitted for the RFP responding to a vendor’s question — said that although a lease has been signed for the Malaloa marina, a review of the Port Master Plan and Shoreline Development Plan concept needs to be done.

DOC said the master plan provides overall policies for the development of tourism specifically and the role a marina would play within a larger framework. "The preparation of a concept proposal that meets the overall tourism strategy of the harbor area can be valuable in evaluating any private proposal," said DOC in its reply.

"Also, it would help direct a marina developer in designing their project in keeping with the overall tourism strategy of the territory."

Besides the Malaloa marina, the other two key opportunities for development cited in the RFP is the redevelopment of the Rainmaker Hotel and eco-tourism in American Samoa.

"Economic development is needed and eco-tourism is seen to be protective of the existing environmental and cultural values while providing direct benefit to the people on these three islands," said DOC.

According to bid documents for the RFP, the requested master plan will be comprehensive in scope, addressing the local need to expand the territory’s tourism industry, to secure global marketing and development expertise, and receive detailed specific project designs and feasibility studies.

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