Torres: Approval of $5M more for Japan TRIP soon
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is currently working on approving the Marianas Visitors Authority’s recent request for $5 million that would go toward the Japan TRIP program.
In an interview with Torres, he said he believes in the importance of investing in tourism as it is the CNMI’s main source of revenue, so since MVA submitted its request for an addition $5 million for TRIP Japan, he and Finance Secretary David Atalig have been working on the approval of the request, which is forthcoming.
“The answer [to] MVA’s request’ is definitely yes. The approval should be forthcoming. We’ve looking at [this request] and like I said, this is a time for us to make investments on MVA and all of our tourism sources. If we don’t make investments, whether it be for Japan, Korea, [or] Australia, then none of us can expect our economy to grow. In order for us to hope for a better workforce, for training, to keep [the Northern Marianas Technical Institute] going, or continue trainings with [the Northern Marianas College], we need to make an investment and support our tourism economy,” Torres said.
In a separate interview with Ivan Quichocho, who is the Japan TRIP chairman, he said it is important to show Japan partners that the CNMI is dedicated to reviving the market by investing in the program.
“We have a beautiful destination. We have willing travel partners, and we have the goal in sight so we can’t stop our efforts. We’ve got to keep moving forward. So we’ve got to have confidence that…we’re going to make it work. But it’s not an easy road. I just want to be very clear that…every day is a fight for us and it’s not easy,” he said.
According to Saipan Tribune archives, MVA chair Viola Alepuyo said that MVA recently asked for an additional $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds from Torres that would be used for the Japan TRIP program.
Alepuyo explained that the allocation would go toward enticing other Japanese destinations, aside from Narita, to visit the islands.
“We have made an additional $5 million request for Japan TRIP so we can explore bringing in other Japan destinations such as Osaka, Fukuoka, etc., to ensure continued direct [flights] from Saipan to various destinations in Japan,” she said.
Initially, the Office of the Governor allocated $15 million for TRIP Japan, which officially launched on Sept. 1.
MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo previously said that a portion of the $15 million would go toward the TRIP program’s airline incentive, while the remaining funding would be used to promote and advertise the CNMI in Japan.
“The $15 million would be used for airline incentives and then we want to have some marketing programs. We want to also do a lot of cooperative promotions and advertisements with our travel trade partners. What we want to do is come up with different programs so that we can entice our Japanese tourists to also visit Tinian and Rota as well,” she said.
As of Sept. 5, MVA has successfully been advertising the CNMI as a destination in Japan and has even established a partnership with the operators of the famous travel website Expedia to further promote the islands to Japanese travelers.