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Sunday, April 20, 2014

MVA approves $1M for destination enhancement

Construction of a pavilion at Banzai Cliff was completed last week as part of ongoing destination enhancement projects by the Marianas Visitors Authority. The MVA has committed $1M for destination enhancement in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota this fiscal year. (MVA) The Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors unanimously approved on Tuesday a $1 million budget for destination enhancement projects on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

During its board meeting, the board agreed to quadruple its initially proposed budget for the year from $250,000 to $1 million, based on anticipated revenue.

“While most of our budget remains committed for marketing in our source markets, now that revenue has increased, the board wants to invest more funding toward developing our product,” said MVA managing director Perry Tenorio. “Based on projected revenue collections this fiscal year, the board feels $1 million is a reasonable and necessary commitment, and we are excited for the opportunities this funding will open up.”

Following the increase in hotel occupancy tax in April this year, the MVA had reactivated its Destination Enhancement Ad Hoc Committee, which has already completed several projects: the restoration of the Sugar King train, railing and monument repairs and construction of a pavilion at Banzai Cliff, railing repairs at Bird Island Lookout, restoration of the canons and tanks at Last Command Post, Aguigan Point/Tinian Goat Island, and the ongoing Christmas in the Marianas celebration.

The following initial projects have been identified for Saipan: restoration of the World War II tank at Quarter Master Rd. intersection, signage at Banzai Cliff; repairs to railings, the lookout point, signs and restrooms at Grotto; repairs to railings and signs at Suicide Cliff and clearing of the Banaderu Trail, repairs to railings and construction of a new guard rail at Ladder Beach, construction of a stage and lamp post repairs at Paseo de Marianas, and pressure washing and painting of pavilions and benches at Last Command Post.

On Tinian, the initial projects will include: installation of railings and rail posts at Taga Beach, installation of railings at Carolinas Heights Lookout, road and parking lot repairs at Yumiyoshi Shrine, installation of new railings at Suicide Cliff, and repair of the MVA plant nursery. On Rota, the initial projects will include new directional signs, interpretative signs at two historic train sites, and rehabilitation of the Japanese-era sugar train.

The MVA board made an inspection tour of major tourist sites last month. Members of the Destination Enhancement Committee will also make assessments visit to Tinian and Rota to work with the community to identify additional needs.

“"We have to deliver. Money spent here not only stays here, it brings a better product to all of our visitors across all markets,” said Destination Enhancement Committee chair Chris Nelson. “We look forward to responsibly using these funds to make the islands cleaner, safer, and more beautiful for our visitors and local residents alike."

The $1-milllion funding was approved as $500,000 for the first half of the fiscal year, with an additional $500,000 approved for the second half of the year dependent upon available funding.

The board also approved additional funding for the Flower Island Project, “a long term space design project to rejuvenate and refresh the Saipan, Tinian, and Rota brand image in Japan to that of a beautiful beach resort destination full of green and trees and colorful flowers.”

The project has also received the commitment of members of the Japan Marianas Tourism Club to promote and sell packages to the Northern Marianas based on this new branding.

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