Latest information from Beijing show that the much-awaited signing of the CNMI’s Approved Destination Status with China would be held a couple of days before the year ends.
Gov. Juan N. Babauta said yesterday that the signing would take place on Dec. 30.
“I just received a notice last night that the ADS signing will be on the 30th in Beijing. I believe that’s the confirmed date,” Babauta said in an interview.
The CNMI government, which announced the ADS granting to the Commonwealth by the China’s National Tourism Administration in early October, earlier said that the formal signing would happen initially in late November and later, on Dec. 15. The government then said that Beijing moved it back to Dec. 21.
Lately, the Marianas Visitors Authority said that the Dec. 21 date was not feasible, acknowledging that the date setting was all up to Beijing authorities.
Meantime, Babauta said he is not certain whether Insular Affairs deputy assistant secretary David B. Cohen would be able to witness the ADS ceremony.
“I don’t know his schedule now, but I hope he would still come,” he said.
He said that when the signing was set for an earlier date, Cohen said he would join the CNMI delegation in China.
Both parties—China and the CNMI—are expected to sign at least two major documents in Beijing late this month: the ADS application approval and a Memorandum of Understanding that sets the guidelines for the entry of Chinese tourists in the Commonwealth.
The MOU generally calls for accredited travel agents that would arrange for group tours of Chinese tourists into the CNMI.
The ADS is a major incentive for the CNMI since it serves as guide for Chinese tourists when making travel choices. Chinese tourists are able to travel to ADS countries more easily as part of pre-organized tour groups.
The granting of ADS, likewise, allows the CNMI to openly advertise in China. Right now, the Marianas Visitors Authority currently maintains three offices in China for CNMI marketing and promotions.
The federal government has expressed concerns over the CNMI’s readiness to handle the entry of tourists from China.
The federal government wants the CNMI to ensure proper background security checks of tourists prior to their entry into the CNMI. It is particularly cautious about tourists “that may be a liability in relation to local immigration control.”
The MVA board recently said that the federal government expressed apprehension over Chinese tourists’ access to Rota.
Previous incidents of human smuggling between Rota and Guam involved certain Chinese nationals.