Tourism in American Samoa
Travel & Leisure Are Still Budding Industries
The tourism industry in American Samoa is small and not overly commercialized. There are about 200 hotel rooms in the territory, and no major resorts. As a result, American Samoans have very effectively preserved their cultural heritage. A visit to American Samoa is an unforgettable and authentic experience. The archipelago, including the main island, Tutuila, is ringed by pristine, unvisited beaches with excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. Tutuila, Ta’u, and Ofu islands are are also home to the National Park of American Samoa, which contains some of the most spectacular and remote beaches, mountain jungles, and coral reefs anywhere in the nation.
The U.S. military does not have any bases in American Samoa, but there is an active Army Reserve presence. American Samoans are highly patriotic, and military enlistment rates in the territory are reportedly higher than any other part of the U.S. American Samoa’s contribution to American football is also well known, with many local athletes going on to play in the NFL.
North American visitors to American Samoa will find the territory easy to navigate. Traffic runs on the right side of the road, there are some U.S.-based business (such as McDonald’s), and it is relatively easy to find rental vehicles, grocery stores, and banks. Fortunately, however, the territory has not been fully “Americanized.” Most businesses are locally owned, many restaurants serve local food, and the people are warm and welcoming.
Although flights to American Samoa were largely restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, normally there are two or three non-stop flights to and from American Samoa each week on Hawaiian Airlines, and frequent daily flights to the independent nation of Samoa. Regular ocean freight service provides direct connections to and from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Asia, and other Pacific islands.
All visitors to American Samoa, including U.S. citizens, must have a valid passport. U.S. citizens and nationals do not require a visa and may come and go as they please for the most part. Nationals from many European countries are automatically issued a 30-day visitor visa upon arrival, but most other nationals must apply for an entry visa. All visitors must have proof that they will be returning home or moving on to another destination within six months.
American Samoa exerts considerable control over inbound and outbound visitor traffic. For example, all nonessential travel to and from the island, including all passenger air traffic, was terminated during the COVID-19 outbreak. Further, all inbound and some outbound visitors must pass through customs, including luggage inspection. It is always good practice to check with the following resources for up-to-date travel and visa information:
Because local immigration laws are often difficult to navigate, Mooney Wieland Warren frequently provides legal support to business owners seeking to bring in foreign executives and employees for long-term, on-island work.