AS LONG AS PAROLE PROGRAM CONTINUES
As long as the parole program for the CNMI continues, the Marianas Visitors Authority has no problem with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new regulation that cuts down to just 14 days the previous 45 days allowed for Chinese tourists to visit the CNMI.
“For as long as the parole will not be revoked, MVA will continue to welcome [tourists from] the People’s of Republic of China,” said MVA managing director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo in response to Saipan Tribune’s request for comments about the new DHS regulations.
Iakopo said it is critical for the Commonwealth to continue the parole program, tourism being the driving engine of the CNMI’s economy.
She noted that, in most cases, Chinese tourists normally do not stay longer than three to four days.
In a separate interview, MVA board vice chair Gloria Cavanagh said the 14-day stay for Chinese tourists is fine and that the former 45-day stay catered to a different market—birthing tourism—and threatened the CNMI’s parole program.
She pointed out, though, that birth tourism is happening not just in the CNMI, which has a really small number. “It is also happening in L.A. It’s happening in Florida. So, any of the ports of entry from China. It’s happening there,” she said.
At the same time, Cavanagh emphasized that the CNMI’s market is basically the regular tourists that are coming here for vacation.
Earlier, Cavanagh, as chair of the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, said the 14-day stay limit has no effect on hotels.
Cavanagh said a regular Chinese tourist typically stays anywhere from three to five days in the CNMI.
Effective yesterday, Oct. 3, CBP, through a statement citing a previously published Federal Register Notice effectively omitting the Russian Federation from being eligible for the CNMI-only parole authority, announced that there would be new requirements imposed on both airline carriers and Chinese tourists before they can enter the CNMI.
Chinese tourists are only allowed to enter the CNMI through the parole program for a maximum 14-day stay in the CNMI instead of the previous allotted 45 days.