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Chapter 06 - Tourism Development

Chapter 06 - Tourism Development

17.0601 Short title.


This act may be cited as the Tourism Development Act of 2008.

17.0602 Purposes.


This act shall be construed and applied to advance its underlying purposes listed in no order of priority, which are:

(1) to promote American Samoa as a tourist destination for the Pacific region and around the world;

(2) to promote tourism within American Samoa and among its people by getting the people involved with various projects and activities aimed at elevating American Samoa as a competitive tourist destination;

(3) to promote the preservation of the Samoan culture and heritage;

(4) to promote the preservation of the environment among the residents of American Samoa;

(5) to promote the preservation of Samoan cultural sites, locations, artifacts, oral traditions, and festive arts; and

(6) to create one government entity responsible for the coordination and facilitation of all that is necessary to carry out the provisions and intent of this act.

17.0603 Interpretation.


In this act, unless the context otherwise requires, words in the singular include the plural, and words in the plural include the singular.

17.0604 Severability clause.


If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.

17.0605 Authority to adopt rules.


The board of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau shall adopt administrative rules pursuant to A.S.C.A., 4.1001 et seq., to implement the provisions of this title.

17.0606 Definitions.


For purposes of this title:

(1) “Act” shall mean the Tourism Development Act of 2008.

(2) “Board” shall mean the American Samoa Visitors Bureau Board.

(3) “Bureau” shall mean the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.

(4) “Chairman” shall mean the chairman of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau Board.

(5) “Director” shall mean the Executive Director of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.

(6) “Government” or “ASG” shall mean the American Samoa Government.

(7) “Governor” shall mean the Governor of American Samoa.

17.0607 Establishment of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.


There is established a government agency within the Executive branch of the government known as the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.

17.0608 Powers and duties of the bureau.


The American Samoa Visitors Bureau:

(1) may sue and be sued as set forth in 43.1203 and 43.1205;

(2) may adopt and use a seal;

(3) may make contracts, as authorized in this chapter;

(4) may adopt, amend, and repeal bylaws;

(5) may purchase or lease and hold personal property it considers necessary or convenient in the transaction of its business, and may dispose of personal property held by it;

(6) may, in the name of the government, purchase, lease, or sell real estate, and to accept title to that real estate in the name of the government, to accomplish the purposes of this act;

(7) shall create tourism sensitive public policy to support tourism development by encouraging innovation and investment in new and existing products;

(8) may enter into partnerships with other entities, person, or organizations in order to further the intent and provisions of this act;

(9) shall encourage, promote and support the development of tourist traffic within and to American Samoa;

(10) shall encourage and support the training and education and development, of persons for the purposes of employment in connection with the tourism industry in American Samoa;

(11) shall establish and maintain registers of hotels, guesthouses, holiday camps, holiday hostels, camping sites, approved holiday cottages, holiday apartments and youth hostels;

(12) shall engage in research and planning in relation to matters specified in subsection (9), (10) and (11);

(13) may engage in advertising and sponsorship or any other form of publicity in order to further the intent and provisions of this act;

(14) may establish and operate tourist information offices;

(15) shall have all such powers as are necessary or expedient for the performance by it of its functions;

(16) shall, in the performance of its functions, have regard to policies of the Government relating to the preservation of the Samoan language and culture.

17.0609 Creation of the position of executive director—Selection.


The American Samoa Visitors Bureau shall be headed by an executive director, to be selected by the board.

17.0610 Duties and responsibilities of the executive director.


The director shall be responsible for the following:

(a) investigate, determine, research and observe the current situation of tourism in American Samoa, by utilizing such methods as public hearings, forums, questionnaires, studies, and all other such research methodologies necessary for the determination of the current state of tourism in the Territory. Prior studies and researches conducted by or in conjunction with other ASG offices, such as the American Samoa Economic Advisory Commission report, may also be utilized;

(b) utilizing the information attained pursuant to subsection (a), he shall make a determination as to what segments of the tourism industry are appropriate in American Samoa, giving due regard to its natural and human resources, culture, and all other such factors that may aid in making decisions on what specific types of tourism are most beneficial to American Samoa;

(c) utilizing the information attained pursuant to subsection (a) and (b) above, he shall make reports to the board on what policies and programs should be implemented for the purpose of promoting and advancing tourism in American Samoa. These reports shall specify the types of programs and policies to be implemented, and shall offer the arguments for and against it. It shall further identify the possible impact these policies and programs may have on the culture and economy of American Samoa;

(d) implement and execute policies and programs consistent with his reports under subsection (c), and shall make all efforts necessary to promote, advance, boost, encourage and further the aims and goals of these reports. However, the director shall not implement or execute such policies and programs until the board has offered a written advisory or recommendation concerning such reports, or has forgone the opportunity to issue such advisories and recommendation, as provided for in section 17.0614(i);

(e) work with representatives of the government and the private sector in developing and implementing plans and strategies that would aid in the furtherance of the purposes and goals of this act, and those of the bureau;

(f) work with village traditional leaders in identifying cultural concerns brought about by the development of tourism, therefore creating policies and programs that are culturally sensitive and are receptive to the needs of protecting and preserving the Samoan culture and way of life, while at the same time developing and encouraging the growth of the tourism industry in the Territory;

(g) develop rules and regulations for the administration, management and operation of the bureau and submit them to the board for approval;

(h) develop and submit to the board the annual operating budget for review and final approval;

(i) hire qualified and experienced personnel for the operation of the bureau in accordance with the provisions of A.S.C.A. Title 7, and A.S.A.C. Title 4;

(j) prepare, approve and conduct procurement of supplies, equipment, materials and personal services, other than employees, in accordance with all applicable laws and rules of American Samoa;

(k) prepare, approve and issue bureau bi-weekly payroll checks in accordance with board policies and in compliance with local and federal labor laws;

(l) prepare and submit to the board monthly summary reports of cash receipts, receivables, payables, and all pertinent financial data necessary for the proper monitoring of bureau finances;

(m) work with local and federal agencies and offices for the purpose of identifying and securing various grants and funds that may be utilized to fund the annual operations and programs of the bureau;

(n) prepare the agenda for board meetings in consultation with the board administrator; and

(o) do all that is reasonable necessary to assist the bureau in exercising its powers and carrying out its responsibilities pursuant to section 17.0608.

17.0611 Creation of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau Board.


There is created the American Samoa Visitors Bureau Board consisting of seven (7) members nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature of American Samoa.

17.0612 Composition and qualifications of board members—Chairman—Terms—Quorum.


(a) The board shall consist of the following members:

(1) one member shall be an employee of the Department of Commerce;

(2) one member shall be selected from the Office of Samoan Affairs;

(3) two members shall be selected from the American Samoa Visitors Association (ASVA) from individuals who possess at least five years experience in the airline, travel agency, or hotel or lodging industries. The individuals selected under this subsection cannot be from the same industry, and not more than one may be selected from individuals residing outside of American Samoa;

(4) one member shall possess at least five years experience in the cruise ship industry, and is currently employed with, or owns a cruise ship agency service. This member may be selected from individuals residing outside of American Samoa;

(5) one member shall be selected from the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce; and

(6) one member shall be selected from the National Park Service of American Samoa.

(b) The board shall select its own chairman.

(c) The first board selected shall have four members appointed for term of three years, and three members appointed for terms of two years. All subsequent members appointed shall be for terms of three years each.

(d) Three members, plus the chairman, shall constitute a quorum.

17.0613 Board administrator.


The board shall be staffed by one employee from the bureau appointed by the director who shall be known as the Board administrator.

17.0614 Board duties and responsibilities.


The board shall meet at least once a month and shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

(a) hire an executive director who shall be directly responsible to the board for the proper and efficient management of the bureau;

(b) review and decide upon the annual operating budget of the bureau in accordance with the Government’s regular budget process;

(c) review and approve procurement actions;

(d) review and approve personnel actions;

(e) review and approve accounting and financial management policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP);

(f) review, approve and submit an annual financial report to the Governor no later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year;

(g) hold regular meetings at least once every month and hold special meetings when necessary. It shall record and keep minutes of all such meetings and make said minutes available for public inspection;

(h) advise the Governor on matters presented by the director in his reports as required by section 17.0610;

(i) issue written advisories and recommendations on the director’s reports as required by 17.0610(c). Said advisories and recommendations shall be issued not later than 25 days from the date of receipt of the director’s report, and failure of the board to issue within that time shall be deemed a decision by the board to forego making any advisories and recommendations on that particular report;

(j) review and approve all other matters properly within the bureau’s authority which are included on the agenda of the board; and

(k) adopt bylaws for the proper conduct of board affairs and business.

17.0615 No compensation for board members—Special meetings.


(a) Board members shall not be entitled to compensation, special benefits or reimbursements.

(b) The chairman shall call special meetings at the request of the director of the bureau, or three members of the board.

17.0616 Attorney General as legal counsel.


The Attorney General of American Samoa shall provide legal counsel to the bureau and the board unless there is a conflict, or until such time the Legislature provides for alternate counsel.

17.0617 Dissolution of the Office of Tourism—Personnel.


(a) At a date fixed by the Governor, the Office of Tourism shall be dissolved. All personnel presently assigned to the tourism office shall remain with the Department of Commerce, unless acquired by the bureau. Employees so transferred to the bureau shall do so without any change in salary or in-service date for computation of retirement eligibility credit under the Government Employees’ Retirement Fund.

(b) All officers and employees of the bureau, other than the executive director, are appointed and compensated according to the requirements of the government employee laws, A.S.C.A., Title 7 and A.S.A.C., Title 4, except that the Board, in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources, may adopt administrative rules, pursuant to 4.1001 A.S.C.A., et seq., to supplant government employee rules in the specific categories of personnel recruitment, employment, termination of employee services and disciplinary actions.

17.0618 Transfer of assets.


At a date fixed by the board, and approved by the Governor, all tangible assets formerly listed under the Office of Tourism shall be transferred to the bureau with the rights to operate all items of property including construction that may be in progress.

17.0619 Transfer of liabilities.


At a date fixed by the board and approved by the Governor, all outstanding liabilities incurred by the former Tourism Office, including all contracts and statutory obligations, shall remain with the Department of Commerce.

17.0620 Source of funding.


(a) Funding for the bureau shall be provided for by the Governor pursuant to Title 10, A.S.C.A.

(b) Funds appropriated for the Tourism Office which are unspent at the time that office is dissolved pursuant to section 17.0617 above shall be transferred to the bureau and considered part of its funding. Such transferred funds shall not include amounts specifically designated for purposes of salaries for personnel, and such personnel remained with the Department of Commerce.

17.0621 Audit.


The bureau shall employ the Territorial Auditor’s Office to examine and report on the condition of financial records and accounts no less than once a year. The report shall be presented to the Governor upon its issuance.

17.0622 Accounting and budget.


The bureau shall assume responsibility for its accounting and financial management and shall perform all related accounting functions, including, but not limited to, general ledger, fixed assets, accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll and cash. The bureau shall apply and adhere to GAAP.

17.0623 Procurement.


The bureau may contract for the procurement of supplies, equipment, materials, personal services other than by employees, and construction with any public or private entity upon terms and conditions as it finds necessary to the full and convenient exercise of its purposes and powers, subject to all applicable procurement laws and rules of American Samoa. The bureau shall receive and account for its inventory of materials, supplies and equipment.