As evidenced by the record-setting attendance in last week’s MTEC/MY Wave Tourism Summit at the Saipan World Resort, Marianas Tourism Education Council chair Vicky Benavente is pretty pleased with the growth of MY WAVE clubs on Saipan.
“We had not expected that large of a turnout but are pleased to see the growth of additional MY WAVE Club members compared to last year,” she said.
Benavente said the MTEC/MY WAVE Tourism Summit held last Oct. 30 was able to successfully share with the islands’ youth information about ways to be actively involved in tourism.
“Students were grouped and asked to respond to several questions geared toward improving the CNMI’s tourism industry and the economy. These students who are in the MY WAVE Club, even those at a young age, understand the value of the tourism industry on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. We, the MTEC, continue to work with them to encourage their participation and expand their knowledge about careers in the hospitality industry.”
One can never be too young to learn and understand the importance of the tourism industry to the Commonwealth, she said.
“Here in the CNMI, tourism is the key economic driver, providing thousands of jobs and a major source of revenue for the government. Our proximity to key Asian travel markets positions the islands at an advantage for marketing purposes. For the CNMI to be a competitive destination, certain challenges must be addressed by both the public and private sectors.”
She said one imminent challenge is next year’s expiration of the CW program, which if not extended will result in the exit of over 12,000 nonresident workers in the CNMI. A large number of these workers are in tourism-related jobs.
That’s why it is important that the islands’ youth must be prepared to work for the tourism industry, Benavente said.
“Considering the federalization of our immigration function, access to skilled labor will be severely impacted by as early as next year, December 2014. If an extension of the transition period is not granted, will the CNMI have a workforce ready to step in when thousands of foreign workers are repatriated? Training and developing the youth is critical to meet the business’ needs for skilled employees.”
Benavente also reached out to supporters of MTEC and its MY WAVE Club, most specifically Docomo Pacific and its general manager James Nelson.
“MTEC is appreciative of the businesses that continue to support its programs, such as Docomo Pacific, which donated $14,000 recently from proceeds of their golf tournament.”
She also thanked the Hotel Association of the NMI, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and the Public School System under Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan, who, she said, grants access to schools for MTEC education outreach programs.