The Marianas Visitors Authority marked its 40 years of existence yesterday and it was celebrated with a proclamation signed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.
Present and past directors and board members and staff of MVA were joined by public and private partners yesterday to witness the proclamation signing that was read by various MVA staff.
“Today, 40 years later, our visitors authority continues to fulfill its mission to ‘promote and develop the Northern Mariana Islands as a premier destination of choice for visitors from throughout the world while providing a maximum quality of life for our people,’ and furthermore, to ‘nurture and encourage cultural interchange and environmental sensitivity for visitors enjoyment and for our children’s children,’” the proclamation read.
It also acknowledged the role tourism has in the CNMI’s economy and MVA’s contribution.
“In 1997, visitor arrivals of the Northern Mariana Islands peaked at 726,690. In Fiscal Year 2015, the tourism industry attracted 479,679 total visitors, contributing an estimated $424.4 million in direct impact and $636.5 million in indirect impact to the Northern Marianas economy, and a conservative estimate of $70.7 million in tax revenue,” the proclamation said.
“Through its support of the tourism industry, the Marianas Visitors Authority helps create opportunities for employment, economic prosperity, international trade, and cross-cultural understanding,” it added.
MVA managing director Perry Tenorio thanked their partners in both public and private for their support. He also reiterated that tourism is the CNMI’s sole economic driver and generates approximately 50 percent, if not more, of its tax dollars.
“So it goes without saying that tourism is—for both the public and private sectors—everyone’s business. We need to live by these words every day because our economic survival and that of our community is dependent on it,” Tenorio said.
Prior to the signing, MVA board chair Marian Aldan Pierce, who has been in the tourism industry as long as MVA, shared with the public a brief history and highlights of what the authority has done for tourism over the four decades.
“Tourism in the Northern Marianas officially began on Feb. 11, 1976, when Francisco C. Ada, our district administrator, signed the enabling legislation District Law 4-415, creating the Marianas Visitors Bureau,” Pierce said
The ’70s saw the opening of two former hotels now known as Fiesta Resort and Kanoa Resort. In the ’80s, tourism in the CNMI reached out to the Japan and Korea market.
The ’90s was considered as “the best and worst of times saw the need for market diversification following the Asian economic crisis. MVB became MVA in 1998. The years 2000 to 2010, saw the continued decline of the Japanese market, and the rising of the Chinese market with the various promotions and projects launched.
“Today, MVA is leading the charge in a full economy recovery from the industry woes that began in the late 1990s,” Aldan-Pierce said.
The agency’s very first director, JM Guerrero, also acknowledged the improvement of tourism over the years.
“It’s gone a long way and I’m glad its expanding fast and more people are recognizing now the benefits of tourism, whereas before we had a hard time convincing people and the partners why they have to finance it,” Guerrero said.
“One thing I personally like to see is more local people in key positions of the tourism industry,” he added.