Delegation to visit Japan to ‘reaffirm’ ties
Reviving the Japan tourism market in the CNMI will be the focus of the current administration even as Gov. Ralph DLG Torres yesterday announced the appointment of Chris Concepcion as the new managing director of the Marianas Visitors Authority, replacing Perry Tenorio who is resigning on March 25.
Concepcion was announced as the incoming managing director after the board approved Tenorio’s motion for Concepcion to take his place during the MVA’s board meeting yesterday. Concepcion, formerly the sales account executive of Delta Air Lines’ Saipan office, will officially come on board MVA on April 18.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres was present to express his support to the incoming managing director and his deep commitment to reviving the Japanese tourism market.
Torres said their first order of business will be to send a delegation to Japan to meet with their government, business, and tourism counterparts to reaffirm ties with the said country.
“I wanted to assure Chris as well as MVA that we are going to prioritize the Japanese market. We are going to Japan and with Chris now [at the] helm in April 18, that will be our first order of business, sit down with him and schedule our plan,” Torres said.
Torres said he wanted to assure the commitment not only by saying it, but also by being present. They will also reprogram MVA funds to prioritize the Japan market. He added that he will also be meeting with the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands to see how they can allocate a certain percentage of rooms to Japanese agents.
“I wanted to assure our Japanese market that this administration is moving forward not just giving resources but assisting the new executive director on board to revamp the Japanese market,” Torres said, “This is a step for all of us, not just Chris or the board, but as well as the administration. I wanted to give the administration and the new executive director the full commitment of myself.”
Torres said he wants to bring back the diversified and balanced tourism industry in the CNMI.
“We are moving into a little bit [of a] different direction because our percentage, our distribution of tourists is different,” he added, “We were hoping we can reach back out to the 30/30/30, 30 percent Japanese, 30 percent Chinese, and 30 percent Korean.”
Torres believes in Concepcion’s capability in reviving the market that has been dwindling for years.
“I believe he is one individual that knows the Japanese market more than anyone because of his affiliation with Delta Air Lines. I believe this would give us new direction, focusing a lot on reviving the Japanese market so that we will have an equal distribution of tourism,” Torres said.
Concepcion shares the same view with the governor, and noted the importance of reaffirming ties with the Japanese, and CNMI’s long relations with Japan.
“First and foremost, we need to reaffirm and strengthen the relations that we have with our partners in Japan. I think it’s very important in the Japanese culture and the Japanese business culture,” Concepcion said
“We have very long ties, historical relations with Japan. They built the economy here in the ’80s and the ’90s and our historical relationship goes further than that. We go back over a century with Japan,” he added.
Concepcion also said that it is important to balance the industry not just through increased tourist arrivals but investors from Japan as well.
“If we stabilize the economic environment where it’s profitable for Japanese companies to invest, we have some existing Japanese investors that are here, multi-million dollar investments that are here, and so it’s important to sort of reaffirm our ties with those companies, as well as invite new ones to come in and invest here in the CNMI so that there’s more incentive to bring in Japanese tourists if there are Japanese investors here in the CNMI,” Concepcion said.
While their focus will be in the Japan market, Concepcion also said they need to maintain a strong presence in existing markets such as China, Korea, Taiwan, and Russia as well as tap in the Southeast Asian market with Philippine Airlines coming on board in June.
Aside from leaving Delta Air Lines, Concepcion will also be resigning as director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. board.
“I want to thank Chris for accepting the position. I know it’s not easy to leave Delta,” Torres said.
Torres also thanked Tenorio for “having the vision to be part of MVA” as well as for his services to the CNMI’s tourism industry.
“Thank you Perry, Dangkulu Na Si Yu’us Ma’ase, for your dedication and commitment and all that you’ve gone through here,” Torres said, “I want to thank you for your service and all the board for the amount of years you’ve dedicated on tourism.”
MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce likewise thanked Tenorio and welcomed Concepcion.
“We’re very sad to Perry go. Perry has been a wonderful managing director and Chris has big shoes to fill. Perry has led MVA through very, very tough times and the board has been very lucky to have had someone like Perry,” Pierce said.
“We’re very excited to have Chris here, he’s young, he’s very articulate, very well respected within the community, [he] certainly will bring new energy to the board and we’re all looking forward to working with Chris,” she added.
After 21 years of service, Tenorio will be separating with MVA on Friday. MVA deputy managing director Judy Torres will serve as acting managing director beginning Tenorio’s departure and until Concepcion comes on board on April 18.