Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce said the various improvement projects that are funded by their office aims to attract more visitors and convince them that the CNMI is a better choice against other tropical island destinations.
“As we market our islands internationally, under increased competition, new attractions are important,” said Aldan-Pierce who identified Guam, Hawaii, Bali in Indonesia, and Thailand as some of the CNMI’s competition.
She added that the increase in the hotel occupancy tax, implemented several years ago, helped fund the projects under MVA’s destination enhancement program. “We’re able to improve tourist destinations for visitors and residents alike.”
The MVA has been aggressively promoting the CNMI as a tourist destination by opening up 10 offices in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
“I invite you to join us in some of our travels in promoting the CNMI to see what we are up against. The increased number of arrivals is through an effective budget.”
‘It starts on Saipan’
The re-lighting of the Froilan C. Tenorio Beach Road Pathway is part of the enhancement projects where visitors and residents can enjoy recreational activities at night. The pathway was partially lighted from First Hawaiian Bank to Cabrera Center and hopefully the entire stretch from Kilili Beach Park to Garapan would soon be finished.
Aldan-Pierce said they are hoping the copper wire theft that happened last month won’t happen again. “Thankfully new wires are reinstalled and the project is back on schedule. We need everyone’s help to prevent this to happen again. If you see anything unusual, call 911.”
The Paseo de Marianas in Garapan and its surrounding areas are also set for some major facelift including an outdoor stage, fixing the street lights, new signs, the planting of palm trees and flowers, and putting lights at the median trees to create a more festive atmosphere at night at the heart of Saipan’s tourist district.
“The MVA will also support the Garapan Heritage Trail project by putting up signs in English, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. The project will identify historical sites in Garapan,” said Aldan-Pierce. Some of the information are now available at the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
The first of several giant picture frames have been erected in Marpi and more will be constructed through the help of Mariana Resort & Spa. These are picturesque locations on Saipan’s northernmost point.
Renovation of the restrooms at Banzai Cliff have been completed with the ones at Grotto and the Last Command Post next to be repaired. Some of the signs in Marpi that were either destroyed by Typhoon Soudelor or vandalized are also going to be replaced.
Tinian and Rota included
Aldan-Pierce said the list of MVA’s improvement projects include attractions on Tinian and Rota. “Our list of future improvements is growing and we’re working closely with the Tinian and Rota mayors. The projects are moving forward with the help of an engineer and an architect.”
The restroom and pavilion at Tinian’s Taga Beach will be renovated while a railing going down the beach will be installed. Repairs will also take place at the restroom and bleachers, and railings put up at the Suicide Cliff.
Next year’s Tinian Hot Pepper Festival will move back to Tachonga Beach to prepare Kammer Beach for several improvements like the construction of a stage, renovation of the restrooms, and painting and repair of the electrical wiring of the pavilion.
Rota’s projects include the repair of the MVA office, the pavilion, and other facilities at the Tweksberry Beach, Swimming Hole, and Mt. Sabana. It also includes installing railings—for safety purposes—at the As Nieves Latte Stone Quarry and Bird Sanctuary, repainting of the old Japanese canon, and restoration of the Japanese Sugar train.
‘We need money to make money’
The entry of low cost carriers Jin Air, Philippine Airlines Express, and Hong Kong Airlines gave the CNMI an estimated additional 2,000 air seats coming from various destinations. Jin Air has daily flights from Seoul to Saipan while PAL Express has twice-a-week trips from Manila.
Jin Air started their flights last June 9, while PAL Express followed on June 16. Hong Kong Airlines, which will also have two times a week trips from Hong Kong, will have its inaugural flight on July 7.
Aldan-Pierce said MVA’s funding comes from the annual budget from the government and taxes from the hotel. “It takes money to make money. We urge our elected leaders not to decrease MVA’s budget. MVA, the national tourism office, makes money for the Commonwealth.”