Vicky Benavente was named the 2014 Business Person of the Year at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s Installation Dinner at Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan Saturday night.
Benavente was cited by the Chamber for her extensive work in the tourism industry and her involvement with a number of outreach and volunteer programs benefiting the local community.
Benavente, who playfully took a “selfie” before her acceptance speech, emphasized the importance of tourism in the Commonwealth, saying that tourism continues to be “everybody’s business and not just the chamber’s.”
In her speech, Benavente also welcomed new businesses and new investors coming into Saipan, most of which are focused on tourism-related projects. Benavente vowed to continue helping the growth of local tourism, which continues to be Saipan’s No. 1 industry.
Tourism is widely seen as one of the major catalysts for the island’s economic recovery.
The other nominees for the Chamber recognition were Maureen Maratita, Glimpses Publications publisher; Michael S. Sablan, vice president of Finance and Administration at Triple J Saipan; Charles Cepeda, Pacific Trading general manager; James Nelson, Docomo Pacific general manager; and Ron Smith, Angil Design, Inc. owner.
Nominees are nominated by Chamber members and judged by past Chamber Business Person of the Year winners.
Benavente, the wife of former lieutenant governor Diego Benavente, is truly a veteran of the CNMI’s tourism sector, having worked more than 30 years in the local tourism and hospitality industry. She was the former managing director of the Marianas Visitors Authority, which serves as the government’s national tourism office.
Benavente also held a number of corporate posts. She served as spa manager for Hyatt Regency Saipan and as an instructor for certification courses from the American Hotel and Lodging Education Institute for high school students.
She also volunteers her time for the Marianas Tourism Education Council as its chairwoman, to help educate the community about the importance of the tourism and hospitality industries. MTEC’s main purpose is to provide information to the island’s youth about the opportunities and benefits of working in the tourism industry.
Aside from her volunteer work, Benavente also served on the board of the “Make a Wish Foundation.”
She is currently a member of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, and is active on works of the chamber’s education committee.
Benavente is currently the executive assistant manager of Pacific Islands Club.