The new managing director of the Marianas Visitors Authority, Priscilla Maratita Iakopo, has been in office since Monday after signing a one-year contract with the islands’ tourism body.
She said she has a lot of plans for MVA.
Iakopo said she was informed about the vacancy and that she went through the interview process, got a phone call, met with MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce, discussed the position, and then signed a one-year contract.
“I asked them to give me the opportunity,” she said.
As to some concerns that she has no tourism business background, Iakopo said her education and background speaks a lot for her.
Iakopo used to serve as interim chief financial officer at the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She last served as director of CHCC’s procurement and supply division.
In a separate interview yesterday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he is aware of the criticism that Iakopo is not experienced in the tourism industry. He pointed out, though, that he has previously appointed people who don’t have expertise in specific fields.
In Iakopo’s case, Torres said she has a master’s degree and a college degree.
“That holds for something. She’s born and raised here. For me that it also says something,” he pointed out.
Torres said Iakopo went to school in the U.S. mainland and came back as her family is here.
“I believe that her heart is here. And tourism, it’s everybody’s business,” the governor said.
He said it is about time that the CNMI start giving their own people the opportunity to gain experience.
“As a governor I have done that in the past. And that’s me, giving opportunities for those who have not been given and for all whether they are young, new to the government or private sector,” he said.
Torres said he is a strong believer that “if you give an individual the opportunity, it’s up to them if they excel or not.”
Torres said he wants to give as many and as much opportunities to those who have not been given.
He said that Iakopo’s predecessor at the MVA helm, Christopher Concepcion, will be working with the Torres administration under planning and development.
He said Concepcion’s experience and input will play a great role on the planning and development of the CNMI, whether it is tourism growth in Marpi, tourism growth in Garapan, or other tourist destinations.
Torres said Concepcion will start work in his new post in the first week of June.
He said they are still finalizing Concepcion’s title, but that he will play great role in the governor’s office.
Concepcion resigned as managing director last March 12.