A plan that got started five years ago to transform Saipan, Tinian, and Rota and promote the destination internationally by having the islands bedecked in flowers is finally getting started.
And it’s not just about flowers. Imagine glow-in-the dark pebbles. Instagram-friendly tourist spots. Native greenery that will play up the lushness and tropical nature of the CNMI. All of that and more in a project collectively known the “Flower Islands” concept.
The idea is to delight people not just during the day but also at night. The colors of the flowers will be bright during daytime, while pebbles that glow in the dark will be scattered around tourist sites like the Banzai Cliff that people can visit even at night.
Junichi Inada, managing director of WIN Landscape Planning & Design, outlined at the Marianas Visitors Authority membership meeting last Thursday the landscaping plans that will be executed soon. Inada’s involvement with the project goes beyond plans as he wants to see the project through until it is achieved on all islands.
“Singapore has been very successful in making the garden city concept. The former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, wanted to promote lush greenery and clean environment to make life enjoyable for the people of Singapore. I worked with other people to execute Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay and it is now one of the main attractions of Singapore,” he said.
“The Marianas does not only have lush greenery but very beautiful flowers year-round. We want to enhance the surroundings using your cultural icons, your homegrown flowers,” he added.
Tasi Tours president Masato Tezuka first came up with the “Flower Islands” concept five years ago, when the CNMI economy and tourism industry of Saipan were in difficult times. Tezuka, together with Inada, presented the idea to former governor Eloy S. Inos.
“We have this idea of making Saipan known as the Flower Islands. …There are so many islands around the world and, like the CNMI, they have beautiful oceans, with many activities and untouched nature. So I asked myself, how can Saipan stand out?” Tezuka asked.
“So the idea of maybe calling Saipan the Flower Islands would work, as there is no other island branded as Flower Islands in the world. The garden concept is nation building,” he added.
Tezuka said that, although the concept was positively received, it did not materialize at once because Inos passed away and then Typhoon Soudelor happened.
“Last year, we had a meeting with a professional designer from Japan and the Marianas Visitors Authority, represented by managing director Chris Concepcion, and it was welcomed. We have expanded the intention of the project,” he added.
Inada said the project will start on the sites that people see first when they come to the Marianas—the airports.
“We are starting at the airport, which currently looks functional. We believe flowers will enhance the surroundings, making it more inviting. After that, we will target the famous tourist sites on each island.”
“We plan to put different flowers that will best suit every island. Boungavillas will be planted around the Saipan International Airport, blue cratoxylum formosum or tropical cherry flowers around the Tinian International Airport and red plumeria and hibiscus at the Rota International Airport,” he added.
Aside from flowers, the project plans to add cultural structures such as latte stones. Glow-in-the-dark pebbles in blue will be scattered on walkways and plant paths to make tourist sites enticing to visit even at night.
“I am very glad that the project has been brought to life and, after years of waiting, the project is ripe for execution,” Tezuka said. “We are looking forward to people seeing the difference, hopefully impress them and eventually get them involved in other projects.”