TOGETHER, WE CAN
This has been a positively eventful week for the Marianas. The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers thanks Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, and the entire 22nd Commonwealth Legislature for their valuable support in enacting Public Law 22-01 establishing the Commonwealth Economic Development Authority to provide better economic development opportunities in the Marianas.
Tourism resumption plan
The Marianas Visitors Authority has announced its approved tourism resumption plan that is aimed at bringing back tourists’ confidence in safely traveling to the Marianas. It’s a major step toward rebuilding our tourism economy and bringing back much-needed jobs and revenue for local businesses.
The Tourism Resumption Investment Plan, or TRIP, was formulated by the CNMI Tourism Resumption Task Force after extensive discussions with industry stakeholders and experts. TRIP is a two-month pilot program that would provide subsidies and incentives to airline companies, tour operators, retail shops, hotels, and restaurants. The plan also underscores strict safety protocols and the importance of reintegrating our islands’ distinct cultures into the travel experience.
Similar travel incentive programs were offered before the pandemic struck, but with the current crisis, many countries are trying more aggressive approaches to luring tourists by offering competitive tour packages and discounts on accommodations, dining, and shopping. MVA will be providing vouchers that could be used at hotels, restaurants, and stores. Additional vouchers will be extended to tourists who also visit Tinian and Rota. All vouchers will have to be spent on the islands, stimulating economic activities throughout.
The projected arrival of 1,400 passengers between July and September will ignite the demand to resume business operations and bring people back to work. Businesses must secure a Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council, which can be applied for through MVA for free. Certified businesses will be eligible to participate in TRIP’s program provided they also adhere to the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force safety guidelines and all their employees are fully vaccinated.
Visitors will be keen on choosing safe destinations with high vaccination rates. As of last week, 70% of our adult population has received their first dose, way ahead of the July 4 target of President Joe Biden. The percentage of our adult residents who have been fully vaccinated rate reached 57% and is expected to rise in time for the pilot program’s launch in July.
The VaccinateCNMI campaign has been largely successful, but the Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force is not letting its guards down. The task force will require that all arriving passengers be screened when we reopen to tourists on July 15. PCR tests will be administered upon arrival and travelers with negative results will be transported to the hotels where they can relax, dine, and freely enjoy the hotels’ amenities for four days. On the fifth day, visitors will undergo a second PCR test and another negative result will allow them to roam throughout the islands. Hotel employees in contact with the guests will also remain at the facilities for five days and tested too.
After more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marianas remains one of the safest places in the world, which puts us in a better position to offer visitors safe and unforgettable experiences. Let’s do our part to support the safe resumption of tourism and help get our economy moving in the right direction.
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Sablan is vice president of Triple J Enterprises, Inc. and chairperson of the Domestic Policy and Recovery Committee of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers. As an advisory council for Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, the GCEA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.