Students rate Marianas ‘average’ to ‘very safe’ for travel

MTEC acting chair Vicky Benavente speaks about job opportunities in the tourism industry during the presentation of MTEC and the Marianas Visitors Authority.

Marianas Tourism Education Council acting chair Vicky Benavente speaks about job opportunities in the tourism industry during the presentation of MTEC and the Marianas Visitors Authority on Oct. 18, 2021, at Kagman High School on Saipan. (MTEC)

When it comes to safe travel, students at Kagman High School rated the Marianas “average” to “very safe” in several categories.

The Marianas Tourism Education Council and Marianas Visitors Authority took an informal poll of students during its presentation of “Safe Travel & Marianas Tourism” at Kagman High on Monday, Oct. 18, as part of MTEC’s annual school outreach to educate students on the Marianas tourism industry, the MVA, and how young people can support tourism.

Most students rated the Marianas as “safe” to “very safe” in the category of Health and Medical Safety, an acknowledgement of the destination’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ability to provide medical services.

Students also rated the Marianas “safe” to “very safe” in the categories of Property Safety and Political Freedom, including government stability and freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

However, some students felt the Marianas was only “average” in the category of Personal Safety, pointing out that frequent polluted and “red-flagged” beaches pose a hazard to personal well-being.

“On average, students seem to agree that, overall, the Marianas can assure potential visitors that it is a safe place to travel to,” said MTEC board member Catherine Perry. “However, they are also realistic about some of our shortcomings when it comes to travel safety and what is needed to improve our destination.”

Students also provided feedback on what tourism-related jobs they might be interested in pursuing in the future, and what more they would like to learn about their own islands to share with visitors—everything from the geology of the islands to myths and legends.

MTEC acting chair Vicky Benavente began the presentation with an emphasis on future job opportunities in the tourism industry for students. MVA Community Projects specialist Jack Aranda detailed the overall responsibilities of the MVA in promoting the Marianas.

“It is always a great opportunity to showcase the importance of tourism to the students. We hope we are able to encourage them to explore a career in tourism since it is a leading industry in the CNMI,” said Aranda.

MTEC presents annually to public schools and is targeting 10th grade in school year 2021-2022.

Other MTEC board members are Priscilla M. Iakopo (MVA), Martin Duenas (MVA), Galvin Guerrero (Northern Marianas College), Larry Lee, Naomi Nishimura (CNMI Public School System), Gordon Marciano (PDI), and Glenn Policare (Kanoa Resort). Dr. Yunzi Zhang of the NMC School of Business also volunteers with the council and donates school supplies.

MTEC offers advisor stipends and other support to MY WAVE Clubs, as well as scholarship opportunities to graduating seniors who have been a member of a MY WAVE Club during high school. Schools interested in starting a MY WAVE Club may contact Aranda at or 664-3200. (MTEC)

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