The Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality believes that car rental companies should participate in the Marianas Visitors Authority’s tour guide certification program to educate tourists on the dos and don’ts while driving in the CNMI.
As tourists continue to return to the CNMI, former concerns start to resurface like the practice of proper road laws and more.
According to BECQ administrator Eli Cabrera, it might be time that car rental companies be required to undergo tour guide certification training in order to properly educate their clients about the CNMI’s driving laws.
“The MVA’s program is supposed to take care of some of these concerns through their tour guide certification. I hope that car rentals are included because that’s mostly where tourists go,” he said.
Division of Environmental Quality director Ray Masga said that it’s important that car rental companies are educated because most tourists are first-timers and know little of Saipan and its rules and regulations in terms of driving safety.
“These could also be first time tourists. They don’t know what the rules are but the only place they would get first-hand information from is where they get the vehicles,” he said.
One of the most common concerns reported, according to both Cabrera and Masga, was driving on beaches and even driving straight into open water.
“One of the issues we brought up was this, driving into the sand, so if they were part of the certification, these car rentals are suppose to instruct their clients not to drive on the sand or into the water,” Masga said.
Cabrera said that the Department of Public Safety should also be vigilant in enforcing the prohibition of driving on beaches with the tourists.
“We have all the necessary tools but it’s the enforcement. DPS is patrolling the roads every day … so DPS is the most appropriate people to do these kinds of things…. DPS should do their part, citation, and rental companies should know better. They will never know until they get that citation,” he said.
BECQ is urging community members to report tourists if they are seen driving on beaches.
“They might spill gas or a drop of oil from the engine could go into the beach and the sand…many things can happen …If they call us, we can contact DPS immediately and they’ll be on the way…call us and we’ll respond immediately,” he said.