In the meantime, MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce is in favor if increasing penalties for crimes against tourists. She said tourism is the islands’ remaining industry and the CNMI economy’s lifeblood.
“The governor and lieutenant governor are extremely troubled by the growing rate of thefts around the island and will discuss this matter and the implementation of alternative safeguard programs aimed at deterring such criminal acts from occurring. Indeed, the admin is gravely concerned at the negative impact these crimes would have on our tourism source markets,” said press secretary Angel Demapan.
Aldan-Pierce said that crime against tourists not only affects victims but its negative effects resonate within the entire industry.
“Just yesterday at MTEC’s tourism summit, I mentioned these crimes and tried to impart to the young audience the consequences the CNMI faces due to these. That we tout our destination as a safe place for tourists to visit, and that each time a crime is committed, it is broadcast in the tourist’s home country and negate our efforts to bring in more visitors. The entire CNMI stands to lose so much if this continues-we will lose tourists and our public and private sector jobs-if we lose our reputation as a safe destination,” she said in an email to the Saipan Tribune.
Although MVA currently provides security at five popular tourist sites and is keen to include Suicide Cliff to its current budget for security services, Aldan-Pierce said that the tourism body is open to other remedies to solve and prevent the spate of robberies against tourists.
“We support increasing penalties for crimes against tourists through legislation, and we encourage individual citizens with information to do their part to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said the DFS Galleria Saipan president. “There’s too much at stake for us not to do anything. These are very concerning and the community should be very upset and be more demanding in the timeliness of investigations which should garner more arrests.”
Just this month, Saipan Tribune records show that five robbery incidents were perpetrated against tourists.