American Samoa Tourism needs a major overhaul and the problem is within the island, not outside. The reality is that the government is just not that serious about tourism and do not see a future in having people come to the island on vacation. This is sad at best.
While Samoa has many problems, American Samoa, if cleaned up, could become a backpacker’s haven. The US Territory has many things that Samoa and even Fiji does not have. It has unlimited internet, medical care, US Postal Service to name a few. This could draw the young traveler as a stop to rest and re-supply at places like Cost U Less and others.
What is the problem with American Samoa Tourism?
It is simple. Those tuna factories are destroying the island and the government does not mind as long as they are shareholders. When you have officials that have interest in questionable operations that are not friendly to the environment; it is very hard to build a tourism sector that will bring people long term. This is one reason the island has lost so much tourism to (Western) Samoa.
The answer starts with the government in American Samoa seeing past the word tuna and looking at building tourism as a primary sector for the local economy. It is better for the local American Samoans and better for the future of the territory long term.
What will it take to have tourism that will last?
The first thing would be to fix the lack of cheap hostels on the island. I would like to see something similar to New Town in Nadi (FIji) that has a block of nothing but cheap places (dorms) for backpackers to stay in. In addition, they have an entire support system of restaurants, bars, and travel options all right there. American Samoa has the beautiful beaches that no one is using to build something like this on.
The other major issue is one that will not be easy to fix but someone has to find a way. Somehow, someway; they have to get affordable flights from Hawaii to American Samoa. I do not know how to do that. (However, low cost airline Cebu Pacific Air did just enter the US market) There needs to be a $199 flight to Hawaii even if it is no frills.
At the end of the day, a dozen backpackers spending little on a place to stay but drinking all night and eating at restaurants will be easier to draw that the high end tourist that expect five star hotels (which American Samoa has none of).
In the end, American Samoa tourism will not be fixed without some leadership with a vision.