With a shared goal of promoting economic growth, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection will sign a memorandum of understanding that will put into effect the Reimbursable Services Program at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport and the Saipan Commuter Terminal.
The Reimbursable Services Program allows IPI to engage CBP in the processing of visitors brought in by the Hong Kong-based investment giant into the CNMI.
The MOU signing will take place tomorrow, Sept. 21, at 11am at the CBP conference room at the airport.
CBP, the largest federal law enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is empowered under Section 481 of the Homeland Security Act, 2002 (as amended) to enter into partnerships with the private sector, state governments, and local governments.
The Reimbursable Services Program, a CBP initiative, is an innovative solution that was designed to expand CBP services for incoming commercial and cargo traffic and international arrivals throughout the continental United States.
Imperial Pacific’s partnership with CBP is new in the CNMI.
This joint venture comes on the heels of a revived travel confidence in the Northern Marianas, of which IPI is being credited for its multimillion-dollar investment in the local economy.
IPI, the largest private sector employer in the CNMI, reached out to CBP in February this year for assistance with IPI guests arriving in private jets.
According to CBP, the new agreement increases the agency’s ability to provide for enhanced services on a reimbursable basis by creating partnerships with private sector and government entities. Reimbursable services under this authority include “customs, agricultural processing, border security services, immigration inspection, and support services at ports of entry.”
With IPI’s MOU, CBP will provide for the following: “primary inspections processing, special services requests, extra section(s) inclusive of charters, and unanticipated irregular operation, including diversions.”
IPI will fund the cost for these services as stipulated in the Reimbursable Services Program. This will afford IPI’s guests, who are accustomed to the comforts of landing in private terminals in other countries such as Singapore, Australia, and Macau, a much favorable entry process for private aircraft passengers arriving in the CNMI.
IPI and its guests understand the importance of the immigration clearance process.
Following the sudden resurgence of travel arrivals into the Northern Marianas, waiting hours at the Saipan airport became a challenge, with arriving passengers waiting between an hour to four hours to be processed for entry.
Over the past two years, arrivals into the islands have made a remarkable uptick. The CNMI is now billed as the third fastest growing tourist destination in the world, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization World Tourism Barometer.
The world’s leading consulting organization in hotel, tourism and leisure, Horwath HTL, in a report released in January this year, pointed out that the drastic growth in arrivals has brought a host of issues to the CNMI, in particular the negative effect of some aspects of the overall experience for visitors as a result of infrastructure at the Saipan International Airport “not catching up with visitor arrival growth.”
Horwath HTL, which was commissioned by the Marianas Visitors Authority to conduct a feasibility and sustainable study, noted that the resurgence of travel into the islands hit its turning point in 2015—the year when IPI began its Saipan operation—when strong demand from Chinese and Korean markets climbed to unprecedented heights.
With the expected completion of its multimillion-dollar Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan in Garapan, it is expected that arrivals by private jets will increase 300 percent. (PR)