Ivan Quichocho, a top executive of TanHoldings Corp., was named the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Businessperson of the Year during a dinner gala last Saturday at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.
Quichocho, vice president for business development at TanHoldings, got the plum in a surprise announcement at the gala. The other nominees were Velma Palacios of IT&E, Yoshihito Shibahata of Pacific Islands Club, and Ty Pauling of Hyatt Regency Saipan.
“It’s an absolute honor,” said Quichocho.
According to him, he has been nominated at least four times for the prestigious award in the past but he declined past nominations.
“This is my first time I’ve accepted, and it’s quite a privilege and an honor,” he added.
The Business Person of the Year Gala, formerly known as the Chamber’s Installation Dinner, is the organization’s signature fundraising event. Last Saturday’s gala, a masquerade ball, also saw the installation of the Chamber’s new officers and board members. They are Palacios, Michael Johnson of Deloitte & Touche, Alex Sablan of Century Insurance, Perry Inos Jr. of Triple J, Ron Smith of Angil Design, Pauling, Donna Krum of Friends First Marketing, Alex K. Youn of AC Pacific, and Kevin McCale of Docomo Pacific.
There was also a silent auction.
It was earlier explained that the name of the gala was changed from “Installation Dinner” to “Business Person of the Year Gala” to focus on the BPOY nominees.
The nominees were judged by the prior recipients of the BPOY award and by the four officers of the Chamber board.
Quichocho believes that competition in the tourism industry just gets fiercer and fiercer on a global stage.
“We…have to acknowledge that the competition out there globally is growing. They’re coming to this game newer, faster, and with more resources,” said Quichocho, referring to Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines.
“The Philippines has well over a million arrivals from [South] Korea. That is our No. 1 tourist market and now Vietnam is entering the fray. They are coming at [South] Korea as source market very aggressively,” he added, saying both countries are somewhat newer destinations compared to the CNMI.
“…The playing field has changed,” he said. “They don’t have North Korea aiming missiles at them and they are not suffering [from] this labor situation that we are facing.”
He believes that cooperation is essential to continue the economic growth of the CNMI.
“We need to work together and work faster just to maintain our current market share. It’s going to be tough in 2018. We need to get our ducks in a row and focus on becoming a better and more dynamic destination,” he said.