MVA moves ahead with tour guide certification

The Marianas Visitors Authority is moving ahead with the Marianas’ tour guide certification program, a legally mandated requirement for all tour guides.

Last July 11, the MVA board of directors adopted the draft program regulations, which will now be translated and published for comment in the Commonwealth Register. Following a 30-day comment period, the MVA will consider any public comments received and then begin accepting applications for the program.

“Tour guide certification is an important and much-needed program on multiple levels for both visitors and our community—accuracy of information, safety, regulatory compliance, and more,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “The MVA has sought the input of licensed tour guides in developing the program, and we have recently received an updated legal opinion that now allows us to proceed with implementing the program, even as we continue to consider public comments and continue to work with the Legislature to ensure the enabling legislation is as strong as necessary. We thank the Legislature for agreeing with the tourism industry that tour guide certification is needed, and we are ready to start the program and make adjustments as we go, when necessary.”

Once the proposed regulations are adopted, the MVA will begin accepting applications for certification.

When an application and accompanying documentation are approved, applicants will be scheduled for a class at Northern Marianas College where they will learn about the regulations, history, culture, and more of the Marianas.

Along with their application, tour guides will be required to provide: 1) proof of eligibility to work in the Marianas, 2) police clearance, 3) driver’s license, and 4) certification of employment under a licensed tour operator and/or business license.

“The purpose of the tour guide certification program is to ensure that visitors are being cared for by licensed, knowledgeable, and responsible tour guides. The day of fly-by-night tour guides is coming to an end,” said Concepcion. “Under the current law, the MVA and other government agencies are responsible for enforcement. However, we are communicating with other enforcement offices about having the best trained offices with more personnel who can enforce the program most effectively undertake these duties. We will also allow our security guards stationed at major tourist sites to act as enforcement officials.”

The proposed regulations will be published in the Commonwealth Register on July 28, 2017. (MVA)

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