Expanded military tourism eyed


With the CNMI’s recent decision to pivot its tourism industry away from its reliance on China, one alternative market the administration is looking at is bolstering military tourism from nearby Guam.

According to Daniel Aquino, special assistant for Military Affairs, the administration has already kicked into gear its plans to tap into military spending in the CNMI through tourism.

“The military is always interested in exploring, diving, golfing, anything leisurely and recreational for families. That’s what they’re looking at. We’re trying to get them to visit here from Guam. We’re currently actively pursuing this,” said Aquino.

Aquino shared that the Commonwealth Bureau of Military Affairs has already started establishing partnerships in preparation for this new industry.

“For the governor and lieutenant governor’s part, we’re moving toward the direction of military [tourism] as we pivot away from our China market. We’re trying to encourage [Joint Region Marianas] to conduct more military training exercises here,” he said.

“As we move forward, we’ve partnered with the Marianas Visitors Authority to create staycation packages [for military personnel]. It’s currently in the preliminary stages. We’re also working with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce on this,” Aquino added.

Tomorrow, representatives from Joint Region Marianas will be giving a presentation at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center on the Army Morale, Welfare, and Recreation program, which deals with providing community, soldier, and family support. Story on Page 3

Aquino said the CNMI is looking at using this program to provide staycation packages for military personnel and their family to entice them to visit Saipan, Tinian, or Rota.

“This forum that’s happening on Tuesday is a perfect opportunity for businesses to start registering and start getting prepared for more military personnel to come here to the CNMI. This [presentation] happening on Tuesday is a good opportunity for businesses in the CNMI to take advantage of by registering their businesses with the Military Affairs office, register their businesses for a SAMS [Systems for Awards Management] number because the military’s priority is businesses with SAMS numbers.”

Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Joe Guerrero, said the possibility of military tourism in the CNMI is good news, given the loss of one of the CNMI’s largest tourism markets: China.

“This is just the start. From my understanding, there are more plans for military spending in the CNMI. Again, these are plans and we’re hoping that the military pushes through with it. All of these is great news for the CNMI because this is one of the ways we’ve talked about diversifying our economy. I think the vision isn’t to replace tourism, but to add to our industries,” he said.

Guerrero said he looks forward to seeing more military families visit the CNMI.

“Military personnel [in] Guam often don’t have time to go visit their families in the [United] States so they’re opting to bring their families out to the Marianas to visit. We’re hoping that these families will consider the CNMI as a place for them to come spend their weekends or up to a week. We look forward to this and there’s better times ahead,” Guerrero said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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