Representatives of the Marianas Tourism Education Council recently paid Mount Carmel high school students a visit to promote awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the role tourism plays in the Commonwealth.
Working with the slogan “Tourism is Everybody's Business,” council representatives Catherine Anderson, Vicky Benavente, and Frank Tudela gave presentations that encourage students to take an active part in the islands' tourism industry.
Benavente explained the rationale behind the “Saipanda” marketing campaign, sharing the back story behind both the name and the yellow nose of the Saipanda mascot. “Sai” means rhinoceros in Japanese.
The Saipanda mascot is one of the MVA's most successful marketing campaign for years. MVA started using the mascot in 1998 for its promotional campaigns and it actually bagged a gold award from the Pacific Asia Travel Association for creating and re-branding the CNMI for the Japanese market and elsewhere with its Saipanda campaign.
Anderson invited a student volunteer to help with the presentation by answering some trivia questions about tourism on the islands. Mount Carmel student council vice president Victoria Camacho stepped up to the plate and answered a number of questions about the visitor industry, including questions about each major tourist market and their impact on the local economy. For instance, Camacho learned that while smaller than other markets, Russian tourists spend more per individual tourist and contribute substantially to the local economy.
Tudela explained his role at MVA, coordinating some of the agency's signature events including the Taste of the Marianas, XTERRA Saipan, and the Tagaman. He invited students to volunteer for the many events planned for the year.
Benavente closed out the presentation by quizzing students on some of the information presented. Junior class president Kaylani Lebria volunteered and answered all questions correctly.
For Camacho, the MTEC presentation helped her appreciate tourism more. “I enjoyed how welcoming they were. It made me want to get more involved in the tourism industry,” she said.
The Marianas Tourism Education Council is a nonprofit organization established in 2002. Its objective is to promote community awareness on the importance of tourism industry. It is the organization's goal to bring back the focus of students on activities that will aid in the recovery of the islands' ailing tourism industry.