MVA: We’re up to the challenge


Gloria Cavanagh

In response to Gov. Arnold I. Palacios’ recent pronouncement about steering the CNMI away from relying on its China tourism market, the Marianas Visitors Authority says it’s up to the challenge.

Last week, Palacios wrote Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, stating his commitment to advancing U.S national interests, which includes pivoting from the CNMI’s dependence on its Chinese tourism market.

In a statement from acting MVA chair Gloria Cavanagh, she said that, although the China market is the fastest and easiest way for the CNMI to recover economically, MVA supports the administration’s decision and is up to the challenge of reviving the CNMI tourism industry without the China market.

“MVA understands the importance of the China market. It would be the fastest and easiest path toward recovery, especially with our on-island partners. In the recent past, this market has been No. 1 or 2 in any given year. We hope that the geopolitical tensions will subside sooner than later but until then, we will support the administration’s directive to strengthen our Japan and Korea markets (our political allies) and to seek opportunities in other markets. It will take time and research, but we are up to the task,” she said.

Cavanagh added that the people of the CNMI, as Americans, must also consider the nation’s security.

“We are Americans. As such, we must take into account the security and sovereignty of our nation,” she said.

Palacios stated in his letter last week that his administration is committed to advancing U.S national interests in the Pacific region and will do what he can to advance these interests as geopolitical tensions continue to heighten.

“Part of this commitment includes the CNMI’s pivot away from its reliance on the Chinese tourism market, which comprised more than 50% of our tourism base (about 200,000 visitors pre-pandemic),” he said.

In place of the Chinese market, Palacios says his administration is working on strengthening and further developing the tourism pipelines from American allies like Japan and South Korea.

“This will take time. The loss of the Chinese market has had considerably adverse economic and financial impact on the Commonwealth. This loss, which represents a sizable portion of our tourism revenue, contributes to vulnerable economic conditions that in the past have been exploited by the Chinese Communist Party to the detriment of the United States’ interest in the region,” said Palacios.

Because of the anticipated loss in revenue, Palacios is seeking the Indo-Pacific Command’s help in advocating for additional support in the form of funding to stabilize the CNMI community as it commits to turning away from one of its biggest tourism markets.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at
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