After months of rigorous work, the new CNMI Tourism Master Plan is nearing completion and is expected to be out by early 2012, according to Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce.
She said the plan is based on extensive research in the destination and target markets and will provide a roadmap for marketing and promotions, destination enhancement, and other tourism actions in the next five years.
According to Management Analysis Inc. consultant Lynn Knight, the master plan for 2012 to 2016 is designed to connect with the last five-year strategic tourism plan initiated by the government and MVA in 2006.
Knight concedes that the first master plan did not achieve its goal of reaching a million tourist but said it still did a lot of great things for the industry, especially in mobilizing people. She said the same plan also brought the momentum back after Japan Airlines pulled out in 2005.
She disclosed that MAI is now on the third phase of the project and has already surveyed over 2,000 tourists.
Knight described the new master plan as a long-term project that will guide the CNMI in developing and improving the tourism industry, the sole economic driver of the islands.
The tourism plan for 2012-2016, a project by MVA with MAI as its international consulting team-is funded by the U.S. Department of Interior. It aims to bring to the table “realistic, measurable, and achievable” action plans for the tourism industry.
Incorporated in the new plan are research and tourism data from other states and territories, Knight said, including funding mechanisms that can be adopted or can guide the CNMI in its next steps.
An initial review of some survey data showed some “alarming” observations by tourists, Knight said. Among these are the abandoned buildings and derelict places, unlighted roads, and the unclean Paseo de Marianas in Garapan.
Other concerns include the lack of establishments that truly offer local foods and delicacies, cultural shows, and other unique activities. Tourists, she said, also want new activities when they come back.
Saipan Tribune learned that MVA last surveyed Japanese tourists in 2005 and Korean tourists in 2003. In the new survey, five key markets are included. The new survey targets 2,300 respondents.
According to Knight, the CNMI also needs to modify its brand identity such as logos and taglines. MVA, she said, is working on adopting these changes in the new plan.
“A branding team has been working to identify recommendations to re-brand the destination to assist MVA. The team has developed numerous sets of logo designs that have been reviewed by MVA. The team has come up with a list of potential taglines and the identity package will be launched by MVA,” Knight said.