DESPITE ZERO TOURISTS
Even though the CNMI has yet to see any tourist, the Marianas Visitors Authority and the Torres-Palacios administration still pushed ahead and declared May as Marianas Tourism Month, in recognition of the vital role tourism plays in the economy of the CNMI.
Also, while conceding that the planned date to re-open the CNMI’s borders to tourism is a “moving target,” the initial idea of a June re-opening has now become “middle part of June to July.”
In signing the proclamation yesterday at the Office of the Governor on Capital Hill, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the administration and other partners “have always planned to expedite the process of tourism” since it is the only industry that generates revenue for the island.
Toward this end, a Tourism Resumption Task Force that consist of several tourism stakeholders and government agencies was formed last March 29 to plan how the CNMI will go about reopening the industry, said MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo in a later interview.
Though there is no solid plan on how to reopen the CNMI, Iakopo said they are currently talking with all of the CNMI’s tourism partners in Japan and Korea on how they can safely open tourism.
According to Iakopo, the response from the CNMI’s Asian clientele “has been great.” She said the clienteles have submitted proposals to MVA on how they can mitigate and provide the protocols for a safe tourism.
“They’re actually excited in partnering up with us. We will be having future meetings with the Korean government and how we can possibly establish a travel bubble as currently Korean passengers would have to go back to a 14-day quarantine, if they’re not vaccinated in Korea,” said Iakopo.
Torres later said in an interview that he is working with MVA, the Hotel Association of the NMI, tour agencies, and airlines for a safe re-opening, but also hoping that the CNMI reaches the 80% herd immunity goal by the time the CNMI re-opens tourism.
“However, we’re cognizant about the importance of opening, and focused on our herd immunity and vaccination. So, we’re hoping that you start middle part of June to July, that’s our target date, [but] this is a moving target date,” said Torres.
Along with Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and MVA, industry partners participated in the occasion, where the proclamation and calendar of events were read by members of Saipan Southern High School’s Marianas Youth Welcome All Visitors Enthusiastically, or My WAVE Club.