With the central government's focus on improving tourism in the CNMI, Rota Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola emphasized that now would be a good time to begin upgrading tourist facilities and activities on the southern island so it can get a share of the visitor arrival increase on Saipan.
Enhancing existing facilities as well as coming up with additional attractions for tourists would make Rota more attractive and encourage tourists to visit or return to the island, Mendiola said.
“We need to work on things that would make it a reality,” he told Saipan Tribune.
Mendiola said Rota needs to renovate its tourist sites by repairing and repainting pavilions and other tourism-related structures to make them attractive.
He said they already embarked on the road paving project from Sinapalo to Bird Sanctuary, one of the tourist sites on the southernmost island of the Northern Marianas. Mendiola considers the project a major improvement since it will make the site more accessible to tourists.
“We are currently fixing our tourist sites so we can have a healthier environment for guests. We need to clear obstacles like this to make Rota more appealing and eye-catching,” said Mendiola.
According to Mendiola, he is also encouraging residents to engage in eco-tourism businesses that would increase activities for tourists visiting Rota.
Although it does not seem encouraging because of the amount of investment it entails, the mayor noted that developing eco-tourism and culture-related businesses now would prove to be beneficial for the island community in the long run.
Mendiola said that Rota can take advantage of what it has to offer by developing eco-tourism and culture tourism on the island, thereby carving a destination for specific types of tourists.
He said the island can capitalize on its flora and fauna by promoting Rota to bird watchers, college students, and members of the academe who are intent on studying endemic or endangered species on the island.
Mendiola said that Rota can also work on becoming an attractive place for those who are into the study of plants since the island is rich in herbal medicines and other types of plant life.
“We can attract the attention of those who can come and see Rota. Every little thing counts,” he added.
Given the municipality's limited funding, however, Mendiola said the development of eco-tourism and culture tourism of Rota should be undertaken by the private sector as they have more funding available to engage in such ventures.