While acknowledging that new Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo lacks experience in the tourism industry, MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce is confident that Iakopo is an intelligent person who will do her best for the MVA.
“We all have been where she is coming into this position—inexperienced but very enthusiastic to learn,” said Aldan-Pierce.
With the help of tenured MVA staff and the board’s guidance, they have no doubt that Iakopo will perform as expected, she said.
Aldan-Pierce pointed out that the MVA board is made up of the tourism industry’s top executives, and that they have the responsibility to ensure that Iakopo’s transition to MVA is smooth.
“We ask the public’s support and indulgence during this time,” she said.
Iakopo started work as MVA’s managing director last Monday.
Iakopo said she has many plans ahead and that she will continue to work with the MVA team to promote tourism and embrace what they have to offer.
As to concerns of some people that she has no tourism business background, Iakopo said she is a driven person.
Iakopo used to serve as interim chief financial officer at the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She last served as a director of CHCC’s procurement and supply.
Iakopo’s predecessor, Christopher Attao Concepcion, will be working with the Torres administration under the planning and development office. Concepcion resigned as managing director last March 12.
Meanwhile, Aldan-Pierce shared her observation on Taste of the Marianas, an annual MVA event held every Saturday for the tourism month of May.
Aldan-Pierce said last Saturday’s rain cooled the Taste of the Marianas venue at the American Memorial Park, which was a welcome change from what she had heard during the first two Saturdays of the event.
She said a new layout also made it seems bigger this year.
“We have broken previous years’ revenues. It’s a great family event,” she said.
Aldan-Pierce said Saturday night’s J’s Fried Rice Competition was also amazing.
She said Sachiyo Masubuchi, the reigning champion from last year’s fried chicken contest, was “awe-inspiring.”
Aldan-Pierce said Masubuchi did not stop moving once the clock started—hand to mouth with rice or water—for 30 minutes and managed to consume over 6 lbs of rice.
“Kudos to the local competitors for joining! The MVA staff and management deserve a huge credit for always putting on such great community events,” she added.