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Travel to the territory in 2020 plunged as COVID pandemic commenced


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Data and statistics in the 2020 American Samoa Statistical Yearbook, released recently by the Commerce Department’s Statistic and Analysis Division re-affirm a major drop in international arrivals in the territory in the year 2020 — at the outset of the COVID-19 global pandemic with countries around the world closing their borders, including American Samoa.

“International travel plunged by 85% in FY2020,” the yearbook declared, and a notation in the report shows that data for arrivals and departures was provided by the ASG Immigration Office.

The yearbook explained that the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented disruption in international travel, with a massive fall of international tourism demand amid widespread lockdowns and travel restrictions put in place by countries in order to contain the spread of the virus.

“This resulted in huge economic and social impacts, placing direct travel related jobs at risk especially micro, small and medium sized enterprises, it says.

The yearbook points out that only 11,143 travelers arrived in American Samoa in FY 2020 and 9,335 left, resulting in a net arrival of 1,808 travelers.

Additionally, “Resident” arrivals accounted for 60% (or 6,720 people) of travel followed by “Crews” with 22% (or 2,428 crew members) and “Employment” with 10% (or 1,106 people).

Furthermore, there were only 203 tourists arriving and 419 left — reflecting again a similar trend in pre-COVID years. For comparison, data in the yearbook shows tourist arrivals in 2019 at 4,312 while there were 4,840 in 2018.

Data also shows that the highest number of tourist arrivals in 2020 were U.S citizens at 118 (compared to 1,651 in 2019) followed by New Zealand citizens at 70 (compared to 1,919 in 2019.)

For crew arrivals, the yearbook explained that it’s “substantially higher than expected probably because of the slowdown in fishing and shipping activities.” There were 2,428 arrivals versus 100 departures; a net crew arrival of 2,328. And over half of crew arrivals were from these three countries namely Indonesia (with 763), Philippines (with 535) and Samoa (with 307).

Of the overall total arrivals, 295 of them visited for business; and 110 were transit travelers, according to data in the yearbook.

Another interesting piece of information in the data, shows that of the 9,335 departures out of American Samoa in 2020, thirteen of them were deportees: 11 citizens of Samoa; one citizen of China, and one deportee only described as “other” noted in the data.