Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion said they are supporting a pending bill at the Legislature that aims to give 2 percent of the hotel occupancy tax to the Saipan, Tinian, and Rota mayor’s offices. Concepcion said MVA only wants the assurance of expanding the use of the funds.
“We have no objections of having a share of the hotel occupancy tax to the mayor’s offices. There’s a pending bill at the Legislature that aims to give 2 percent to them and it’s not a bad idea giving it to them,” said Concepcion.
“My only comment is they expand the use of the funding because right now it says only for charter flight promotions. They need to expand it to include destination enhancement and promotional marketing initiatives,” Concepcion said.
He added that even though the money comes from the MVA Trust Fund, they have no say on how it is spent.
“There is no accounting of that funding, it goes directly to the mayor’s office. Not that we want to have a say, but ideally we would want to have like an annual report and how they spent the money. Just to ensure it is spent as it is meant to be, which is in tourism,” said Concepcion.
The Saipan Mayor’s Office, under Mayor David M. Apatang, has a cultural exchange program where students from Japan and Korea visit the island where they spend time learning the local culture. The said program helps MVA’s chief task of promoting the CNMI as a tourist destination.
“The funds can support these kinds of programs, something that MVA definitely supports.
For the longest time we like the idea of having Japanese and Korean students that come here when they are young and have these good memories they spent in our islands, that image builds a lot for us and it is a good thing,” said Concepcion.
He added that right now the only assistance MVA gives to the Saipan Mayor’s Office is providing leis in the meet and greet of the visiting delegations at the airport and gifts that would remind the tourists of Saipan.
“We all have our satellite offices in Japan and Korea promote educational tourism. We do have bunch of student groups that do come over every now and then, and throughout the year,” Concepcion said. “We’ve been doing a lot in promoting Saipan as a good destination for students and experience the local culture.”