The Class of 2019 of the Pacific Century Fellows Marianas Chapter had its first retreat last April 17 at the Kanoa Resort, with the 18-member cohort gaining a more in-depth perspective of CNMI tourism and economy.
Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce and former MVA managing director Chris Concepcion were among the resource speakers. They emphasized how tourism drives the economy of the islands and cited the challenges the MVA is facing as it sells the CNMI to the world. The two also talked about MVA’s projects and plans, as well as its partnership with the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands and other industry stakeholders.
TanHoldings Corp. chief executive officer Jerry Tan also taked about sustainable development in the CNMI, while representatives of tourism, hotel, gaming, ports, and cultural promotion groups were present to give inputs on the two subjects.
“The first retreat…provided greater insight into the intricacies of how tourism and gaming drive our economy,” said Class of 2019 member Kevin Bautista.
“Economic viability in the CNMI is an ongoing struggle with our limitations as a small island market and the externalities that surround our region, but the retreat taught us that diversifying our economy and exhibiting our culture and environment through an innovative approach will yield a higher standard of living for the Marianas for years to come,” he added.
Marianas Young Professionals’ Nola Hix liked how Tan reiterated the need to have a vision that would optimize economic opportunities for the islands that are in the best interest of the community and its residents.
“He talked about how the CNMI needs a vision of where we want to go and how we want to present ourselves to the world 10 to 20 years from now,” Hix said.
“It really had me thinking because I feel that, until we come up with a vision, we really don’t know what our islands need and what we can sustain. I think that’s what led us into a lot of the issues we have now with regards to unforeseen development, the lack of enforcement, and the need for better infrastructure, etc. We really need a plan on how we can address these issues, and prepare ourselves for economic and sustainable growth,” she said.
The other members of the Class of 2019 are Lorenza Aldan, Sheila Babauta, Manny Castro, Christopher Ching, Bonny Cruz, Ricardo Cruz Jr., Clinton Dela Cruz, Kaelani Demapan, Alexis Hofschneider, Amber Lynn Mendiola, Le’An Murphy, Benjamin Petersburg, Michael Sheu, Leila Staffler, and Noelle Macario.
The Class of 2019 will have its second monthly retreat this Thursday, and the group will talk about the government and take a tour of the offices of some local and federal agencies.
“I expect to continue learning from more established leaders in our community and hear more about their advocacies, leadership, and experiences,” Macario said. …“No matter what industry we’re from, we all have the ability to help and contribute to the economy,” she added.
The Pacific Century Fellows Marianas Chapter is a nine-month leadership development program organized by the Tan Siu Lin Foundation and modeled after the Pacific Century Fellows of Hawaii. (PR)