A picture and a thousand words

I told people and MVA that locals were being uprooted and left out of the future picture for tourism in the CNMI and the picture of the newly certified tour guides is just the beginning and will continue to expand throughout the CNMI’s tourism industry if nothing changes. From what I could tell, all of the tour guides in the picture were not locals, which sends the signal that tour companies are not hiring locals to be tour guides. Either locals are not included or they don’t care about being tour guides. In either case, this phenomenon should be troubling for locals and tour guide companies, especially if these tour guides are CWs who will have to leave one day!

I also saw students on Rota being oriented about tourism and I can only pray these students are also encouraged to learn to speak another language as that requirement will be one of the biggest hurdles for them to fully participate in our tourism industry in key positions. I’m almost sure the new tour guides speak a foreign language, which is what propels them past locals in the hiring line for tour guides and even for the high-level jobs at hotels. I remember many tour guides in the CNMI actually knew Japanese but times and the conditions have changed from Japanese to Chinese. So I don’t blame MVA or the tour companies because they have a business to run but I do blame our leaders on the hill and in education for setting the conditions and not preparing our local workforce for these jobs and it’s almost too late now to change the practice of hiring non-locals for tour guides.

I am wondering where the NMDs and those locals who are always claiming “this is my island” when locals are constantly being left out of the key positions in our tourist industry. Do CWs really know more about the CNMI than locals is a question for the NMDs and all locals who wanted to be a tour guide to answer. From what I can tell it is not going to be your island much longer as the Chinese are buying it up one piece at a time, which is evident in how the leases of existing hotels are being gobbled up. We are doing more “renovation” of our tourist industry than expanding the base. In fact, the base is narrowing. Heck, the Legislature is even helping by planning to extend the leases so the Chinese can be in control even longer, almost doubling the length of time in the old lease requirements. Any economist will tell you that diversity is a key element to establishing a sound sustainable base for our economy and it seems our leaders have committed to putting all of our eggs in the one basket, which is a dangerous gamble—a lesson taught in social studies economics about “one-crop economies” because if that one crop fails, our economy will be in shambles, like it was when the Japanese economy took a big hit and we suffered. If something goes wrong between China and the U. S., the CNMI will be helpless and at the mercy of federal intervention again! So locals need to pray long and hard that nothing will ever go wrong!

It is clear to me that money talks much louder than I do in the CNMI but, like I keep telling the powers-that-be, time is on my side when I speak out on issues. I have a lot of compassion for the average local person, which is why I continue to speak out and I don’t need a thousand words to explain what is happening in the CNMI. But just maybe one day, local leaders will get it that they should have listened a lot more to Ambrose M. Bennett, who continues to say, “I told you so!”

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman, Saipan

Ambrose M. Bennett Author

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