Tan Holdings president Jerry Tan stressed the need to continue bringing in from overseas skilled workers who could help build the island economy, saying that the CNMI does not have enough local workers to sustain its workforce.
Tan, at the same time, congratulated Filipino workers in the Commonwealth for their contributions during his inspirational remarks at the installation ceremony for the new officers of the United Filipino Organization Saturday night at the Fiesta Resort & Spa.
He said he witnessed these contributions early on, growing up in Guam where he went to school and became friends with many Filipinos from the southern island, as well as when he moved to Saipan where his family established several businesses.
According to Tan, the growth of the economy that the community witnessed is a result of the teamwork among locals and Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and other overseas contract workers on the islands.
“I like to recognize all of you who really contribute to what CNMI is today,” he added.
Tan said that the threshold for the number of foreign workers that would be allowed in the Northern Marianas should be increased in order to grow the economy.
This move, he explained, would play a big role as the private sector works on increasing job opportunities in the Commonwealth.
Tan noted that there would be more job opportunities if the islands continue to improve its tourism industry and help bring back more Japanese tourists and even grow the Chinese, Korean, and Russian markets.
He said the additional flights from China and Russia in the last few months have posed a “big problem” in the CNMI, which now lacks hotel rooms-a situation it has not experienced for a while.
Tan said the situation has been compounded by the shutdown of hotel rooms. The CNMI's current room inventory, he said, is less than 3,000 hotel rooms which only allow the islands to accommodate below 500,000 tourists.
“As we continue to bring back our Japanese tourists and grow our other markets, we really need to find a way to reopen those rooms,” he emphasized.
Tan explained that additional hotel rooms not only means increased tourist arrivals but it also equates to more job opportunities, which will have a multiplier effect as it translates to higher spending power for the public.
“This is what the local community needs right now: jobs for everyone,” he said.
Once the economy improves, Tan said the CNMI can then attract more investors and would even encourage existing establishments to expand businesses and hire more staff.
“It's going to be the start of our economic recovery,” said Tan.
Tan, a board member of the Marianas Visitors Authority, also cited the need for a strong partnership between the private sector and the government as both entities work on obtaining more opportunities for the Commonwealth.
“We could be looking at a bright 2013, even onward,” he added.
Tan congratulated UFO for its accomplishments and for being active in the local community. He congratulated outgoing president Bong Malasarte and assured new president Annamae Adaza of his continued support to the umbrella organization.
“I just want to recognize your contribution to the growth of the economy in the Commonwealth. Moving forward, I believe that all of you still have a very important role to play,” he said.