If law permits, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said he intends to sit down and re-negotiate a contract with Japanese company Tasi Tours for an exclusive concession lease over Managaha Island.
The Department of Public Lands earlier said that a request for proposal would be out last week, but Torres told reporters yesterday he has asked DPL Secretary Marianne Teregeyo for her patience, as he seeks the Office Attorney General’s guidance to see if an “RFP is warranted.”
“If the law allows me to negotiate directly with Tasi Tours, then I will do that,” Torres told reporters after a press event yesterday. “If the law requires me to do an RFP, then I have to do that as well.”
Torres repeatedly asserted yesterday that the Managaha lease was a “concessions” lease and not a lease of property like with other major hotels on island that have opened to competitive bids recently or will so in the approaching years.
Torres said that under a concession lease, “it’s just like someone renting a jet ski behind Fiesta [Resort & Spa]” hotel.
“Because it is a concessions lease agreement, unlike property that Marianas Resort or Fiesta, or Hyatt [Regency Saipan] or any other golf courses, for example,” he added.
The Mariana Resort and Spa lease expires in 2018, and is property that has been openly eyed and pursued by casino company Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, which oversees the exclusive casino industry on Saipan.
In Garapan, the Hyatt Regency and Fiesta Resort have leases that reportedly expire within the next 10 years.
Torres also acknowledged concern with an ailing Japanese tour market.
JTB, the parent company of the Tasi Tours, is seen as the largest tour company in the world.
“I am concerned with the Japanese tourist market, and with the emphasis that this administration has put forth to bring back an increase the Japanese tourism,” he said. “We are giving all of our effort with Marianas Visitors Authority, working with Delta Airlines, working with Japan Saipan tour agents, and our HANMI association and now the Tasi Tours.”
MVA managing director Chris Concepcion also signaled their support of renegotiating a contract with the Tasi Tours, if that option was taken.
“At the end of the day, the Tasi Tours group is owned the JTB Group in Japan. JTB is the largest travel agency in the world,” said Concepcion. “And so to have that kind of a presence here in the CNMI is very important.”
“We will support whatever path the administration is leaning towards. We’ll do our part on the MVA’s part to support whatever his intentions are, with regards to the lease. If he’s interested in opening up, or renegotiating a brand new lease with the existing concession holder that is something we will definitely discuss and support the administration on.
“As far as Japan, it is a very, very critical market for us. We need to maintain the goal of 30,30,30 [percentage split of Asian markets]” an “equal distribution of tourists arrivals here in the CNMI. It is very important for our long-term growth,” Concepcion said.