MVA: We still have a long road ahead of us
Although the CNMI’s tourism industry is now on the road to recovery, there is still a long journey ahead, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.
According to acting MVA chair Gloria Cavanagh, the recovery of the CNMI’s tourism industry has been slow but steady. And although recovery continues, it seems as though the road remains long, especially now that geopolitical issues continue to hinder the return of the Chinese market, one of the CNMI largest tourism markets.
“In terms of supporting our sole economic driver and recovering our tourism economy, investing and attracting more visitors to our destination remains MVA’s top priority and the best return on our investment. At this time, total arrivals to the Marianas are around 47% year-to-date compared to fiscal year 2019 before COVID. We anticipate a recovery of 77% of all air seats from Korea by the end of this fiscal year compared to pre-COVID. Japan is also making a slow but steady recovery,” she said.
“But at this time, China, which is our second biggest source market before COVID, is not available to us due to geopolitical issues. In short, we still have a long recovery process ahead of us. And with [American Rescue Plan Acts] funding depleted, we are having to fight our competitors and an unfavorable currency exchange for every single visitor arrival,” Cavanagh added.
For these reasons, Cavanagh said MVA is looking at asking the Legislature to re-implement Public Law 18-1, which appropriates a large portion of the CNMI’s Hotel Occupancy Tax to MVA.
“Regarding next year’s budget, our board will be requesting the re-implementation of Public Law 18-1, which was suspended due to COVID. This law is the funding source for MVA, providing a majority of the Hotel Occupancy Tax for our personnel and operations,” she said. “With ARPA depleted, we will be respectfully requesting that this law be restored so MVA can continue our work of tourism recovery and development.”