OPD secures grant to help improve tourist sites
In his previous capacity as deputy director of the Office of Planning and Development, Christopher Concepcion and his team were able to secure much needed funding to improve a few tourist sites in the CNMI.
This was learned in an interview with Concepcion, who is now the Marianas Visitors Authority managing director, who said that through his prior position at the Office of Planning and Development, they were able to secure a grant to take care of some tourist sites in Marpi.
“Those plans are forthcoming. The idea is [OPD] is going to add MVA as a co-recipient of the grant so that we could help administer the grant and from there, we’re going to help improve Bird Island Lookout, Suicide Cliff, and Last Command Post,” he said.
In addition, Concepcion said he learned from Lt. Gov. David M. Apatang that the Office of Grants Management is working on grant funding for Banzai Cliff as well.
“I was speaking with Lt. Gov. Apatang who mentioned that the Office of Grants Management is working on a grant to secure funding for equipment at Banzai Cliff. Those are coming along,” he said.
“The grant process is not easy but once we get the ball rolling, things should work themselves out. Those are forthcoming. We are working very hard,” he said.
Concepcion stated in a previous article on Saipan Tribune that destination enhancement is one of his top priorities at MVA.
“Destination enhancement is one of my key priorities. MVA and our partners, other government agencies, and partners in the private sector really need to focus on improving our islands like the tourist sites, facilities that need upgrading, and [coming up with] new and improved attractions. That’s key. These are all key factors in revitalizing our tourism industry,” he said.
When asked about the ongoing jurisdiction debacle regarding who is in charge of renovating and enhancing the island’s tourist sites, Concepcion said he and his team will be working closely with all other agencies and departments who may have jurisdiction over these sites, and finally address the much-needed improvements.
“The question of jurisdiction has historically always been an issue. We know that the Constitution grants all rights to the Department of Public Lands. However, there have been certain sites that have been designated to other departments to manage, but none of them have ever been designated to the MVA to manage. But historically, MVA has spent a lot of its funding on improving tourist sites, paying for security, and maintenance. So, we’re going to have to work closely without other departments and agencies to settle this jurisdiction issue and maybe it could establish joint jurisdiction. But we will have to see,” he said.