The Marianas Visitors Authority board has unanimously voted in favor of increasing this year’s budget for the 18th annual Tinian Pika Festival by $35,000.
During an MVA board meeting last week, the board unanimously granted the MVA management’s request to increase this year’s Pika Festival budget from $15,000 to $50,000.
According to MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo, the $35,000 will be reprogrammed from MVA’s budget for Christmas in the Marianas last year.
“The request from management would be an additional $35,000, because this fiscal year the Tinian Hot Pepper festival was budgeted at $15,000 only so we’re asking for an additional $35,000 to bring the budget up to $50,000, which we wanted to reprogram from Christmas in the Marianas from last year’s Christmas as we had a balance of $64,000 left. We wanted to make sure we have sufficient budget for this year’s hot pepper festival,” she said,
Iakopo said in her presentation that the reason for the budget increase is to allow MVA to expand the festival grounds, book charter ferries, and to add an additional night to the festivities. It is believed this would improve the event’s accessibility by 50% and increase the event’s duration by 50%.
“Based on last year, it was a successful event, we had a lot of participants and…we even had to temporarily shut down the event because of overcrowding. Part of the reason that we’re asking for a larger budget is because we want to ensure that we follow COVID-19 Task Force protocols so we wanted to expand the barricades at the event to give us a lot more room, especially in compliance with the 3W’s,” Iakopo said.
The managing director noted that MVA will book charter ferries to accommodate the number of cyclists they anticipate to join the annual Pika Festival bike race.
“Last year, we didn’t have as much bike racers and this year we are anticipating a lot more, so that’s an increase in costs and, in addition to that, we also wanted to provide a ferry to go down. Last year we kind of reduced that and we felt that not many were able to utilize air or sea services because there just wasn’t enough so we just wanted to increase that capacity as well,” she said.
With the $50,000, Iakopo said the ferry charters will accommodate about 220 persons and it will run once a day and twice on Saturday.
Also, MVA will add an additional night to this year’s Pika festival, with the opening ceremony to be on Friday and will continue on to Saturday before concluding on Sunday.