In light of the continued worldwide drop in tourism and dwindling local revenue, the Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors voted yesterday to implement a 90-day suspension for its contracted representative office in Japan. The representative office in Taiwan has been temporarily suspended since April 2020, and the MVA is also working to further reduce services by its representative office in Korea.
The move also follows a termination of the MVA’s China representative office in June 2020. The MVA, usually funded almost entirely by hotel occupancy tax collections, has already furloughed almost 70% of its staff and is bracing itself for further belt-tightening in fiscal year 2021, as tourism is not expected to begin to resume until Summer 2021 at the earliest, but most likely late 2021.
Acting MVA board chair Gloria Cavanagh underscored the need for the MVA to continue operations and maintain response readiness despite extremely low visitor arrivals from only Guam and the U.S. and reduced revenue.
“The MVA helps drive the Marianas economy. You can spend money on all of our government services, but really, the MVA is the only agency that actually spends money to generate money,” Cavanagh said. “If the MVA is not funded, then we’re going to be in the same position after this COVID-19 situation is over as we are today, because we would have ceased promotions and marketing in our source countries. To defund the MVA would further immobilize the Marianas tourism economy both immediately and long-term.”
The MVA is represented by TAMS in Korea and by Access Inc. in Japan. The offices conduct marketing and promotions through professional contacts and with cultural expertise in their respective countries. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, marketing and promotions have been minimized, but the offices continue to play a primary role in keeping The Marianas public and private sector updated on source market COVID-19 related protocols and requirements, tourism business changes and future planning, and travel sentiments. The offices are also conducting low-cost promotions, including social media campaigns, to maintain public awareness of and interested in The Marianas.
The MVA has recently been awarded $10.8-million Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery for brand development of the Marianas. However, Cavanagh emphasized that the grant cannot be used for other purposes,
“The CDBG grants are extremely specific, and we cannot use any of that grant money for operations, including off-shore offices,” she said.
Keeping both companies on-board will help the Marianas respond quickly to any positive changes in travel trends. (PR)