About 280 students from different public schools on Saipan gathered at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan yesterday for the Marianas Tourism Education Council’s 17th Annual Tourism Summit.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo said the large number of participants is encouraging. “The more students we can teach, the more that the awareness is spread among them,” she said. That awareness is the about how tourism in the CNMI is everybody’s business.
Most of the participants were members of the many MyWAVE Clubs under each school in the Public School System, and were composed of elementary, junior high, and high school students.
“Having such a huge number of students participate is very important because this might be a field day for them, but they really go back and share with their peers what they’ve learned,” said Iakopo.
She said it’s important to send as many children as possible to the summit because it gets students involved in tourism, the island’s main industry.
“We want to teach them about protecting our environment and the importance of tourism as our economic driver,” she said.
MTEC chair Vicky Benavente said the summit is valuable because it helps children understand their role in taking care of the islands and the importance of that role.
“At a young age, these kids are learning about not just trash pickups but also how to be a friendly person and kind to each other so we can attract more tourists. Why? Because it helps our tourism and it is our one economic driver,” she said.
Benavente said this year’s event turned out great despite being the first summit since the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yutu back in 2018.
“The organization was really great. We are still in the recovery stage. Some of the schools are still in double sessions but we have gotten great support from the business community, and from the PSS, and also from the government and it was just a whole crossover of support,” she said.