The Marianas Visitors Authority will be enlisting the help of a YouTube influencer with 2.31 million subscribers to his channel to promote the Northern Islands.
Robert Arrington, who hosts the YouTube channel Deer Meat for Dinner with his wife, and has made a series of videos about his adventures in hunting and fishing, will be going with his family on a monthlong trip that will see him hopscotching from one island to the next in the Northern Islands, and promoting his adventures.
Toward this end, the MVA board has asked the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres for $59,000 to fund Arrington’s trip in hopes to promote the Northern Islands post-COVID-19.
In addition to the $59,000, MVA is also asking for $100,000 to be spent for the MVA’s destination and enhancement program.
MVA board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce pointed out that MVA has long found it difficult to market the Northern Islands but, with Arrington’s help, MVA will be able to use all the videos that Arrington will produce for marketing purposes.
“I looked at the original proposal that was from [MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo], and I think, for the amount of money that they’re asking for, it’s really quite minimal,” said Aldan-Pierce. “I think this is a very good opportunity to showcase not just Saipan, Tinian, and Rota but the Northern Islands.”
Because Arrington’s videos are funny and well-made and the quality of the videos that he has put out has been consistently good, Aldan-Pierce believes investing $59,000 in this project will be “worth the money.”
According to Torres, what was supposed to be just a two-week trip turned into Arrington, his family, and crew purchasing a one-way ticket to the CNMI in order to not only enjoy his trip but because Arrington is eager to promote the Marianas.
“We have a gentleman here who is genuine, who care for the island, and is spending his resources to come here to promote the Marianas,” said Torres.
Torres said that the world only knows what happened in the CNMI during World War II but, with the help of Arrington, he will be able to show all the tourist sites in the CNMI, not just World War II remnants but also diving spots and more.
“This is the best opportunity for us to embrace and endorse, and I think most of all, he wants to bring in high-end tourists to appreciate what we have here,” said Torres.
Jerry Tan, MVA board member and TanHoldings president, stated giving Arrington, his family, and his crew this chance to tour the islands will allow them to explore places that are not so crowded. “If I consider a family trip, I don’t think I want to go to a crowded place,” said Tan. “Our whole Mariana Islands, including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, have that unique opportunity.”
Tan added that although he hasn’t been to the Northern Islands, he has yet to meet someone who has gone there and did not fall in love with the environment there. Additionally, Tan says that this is a good opportunity to allow MVA to start going after “high-end” tourists.
Tan is also confident that many tourists will be making their way to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to enjoy the peace and serenity the islands brings.
MVA board member Chris Nelson said that the videos should also contain important details and information about the Northern Islands, including how to get there, the islands’ features and other important facts that travelers and expedition organizers should know and which the MVA should provide. Nelson suggested that MVA should collaborate with local partners that can provide services to those who want to go to the Northern Islands.
As for the logistics, Torres said that more information will be provided later on. Arrington, his family, and his crew will first stop at Maug, said Torres. He will then make his way around the Northern Islands.
Arrington first went to Rota in 2018, after meeting a Rota resident, who is a fan, in Seattle, Washington. Arrington got to experience the lifestyle on Rota and also hunted for coconut crabs.
“I got to see, witness, become part of a Chamorro family, the Chamorro culture,” said Arrington in a YouTube video that was shown by MVA. “I’ll tell you, I’ve traveled all over the world but never been anywhere like the Marianas.”
Arrington stated that he wants to show the world how the CNMI is and even though it may be a small island chain, it has so much to be proud of. “Your culture, your food, your people, it is a special, special place,” he said. “Your land is rich in diversity, it’s lush with amazing, beautiful plants and animals.”
Arrington believes that the Marianas has the potential to thrive in tourism.
Additionally, Arrington, his family, and his crew have gotten tested for COVID-19. Torres advised Arrington to get tested before coming here so there will be no problem coming to Saipan from Hawaii and Guam.
Arrington has accumulated over 600 million views, averaging at 500,000 views per day from different places in the world on his YouTube videos.