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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Firm wants to waive anew $1 fee for Mañagaha tourists
‘CPA lost close to $170K for waiving the fee in two years’

Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. has renewed its request to extend for another year the waiver on the $1 per passenger fee collected from tourists going to Managaha Island but the Commonwealth Ports Authority is leaning toward turning this request down.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority first allowed Tasi Tours to suspend the $1 per passenger seaplane facility charge in 2012 due to the challenges faced by the tourism industry. The same waiver was granted anew the following year.

On Jan. 3, Tasi Tours president Kazusuke Fukuju formally asked for another waiver of the seaplane facility charge. The extension request was sought until the seaplane dock has been renovated or CPA transfers to the Outer Cove Marina dock.

CPA board officials, however, are inclined to disapprove this latest request.

For board member Fermin Sakisat, the two years given to the tour company seems enough to help the firm in whatever recovery it may need in its operation.

The $1 seaplane facility charge is for every tourist that Tasi Tours drops off for Pacific Subsea, which transports tourists to Mañagaha Island.

CPA executive director MaryAnn Lizama disclosed Friday during a board meeting that when the waiver was first approved in 2012, reports indicate that the company transported 90,000 passengers to Managaha Island. As of the third quarter of 2013, CPA reports indicate that the company transported about 78,000 passengers.

“If we will translate those figures into dollars, this means that CPA lost potential revenues of about $90,000 and $78,000 in two years for waiving that fee. If every month they transport 30,000 tourists to Managaha, that’s the same amount in dollars that CPA lost for revenues monthly,” Lizama explained to Saipan Tribune.

According to Lizama, CPA has a standing lease agreement with Pacific Subsea amounting to $2,400 monthly. The company, she said, is current on this lease payment. Because Tasi Tours provides customers to Pacific Subsea, the waiver was directly sought by the tour company with the ports authority.

Board member Michael San Nicolas, for his part, wants to know the reason behind Tasi Tours’ new request. He said it is important for the board to know if the company is experiencing a decline in tourist arrivals or not.

The board has agreed to defer action on the waiver extension pending further information and discussion with both the CPA management and the tour company. It is expected that a decision will be made at the next board meeting.

It was learned that the existing waiver expired on Jan. 31.

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