Public comments for regulations that will govern the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Tour Guide Certification Program are now being accepted.
The regulations, drafted in consultation with related agencies and industry professionals, were published on July28, 2017, in the CNMI Register for a 30-day comment period.
“The Tour Guide Certification Program aims to ensure that the quality of service, safety, and care of our visitors is at the highest industry level,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “We’re looking forward to finalizing the regulations and beginning the program, which will only improve the Marianas’ reputation as a premiere destination.”
As proposed, individual tour guides will be required to provide police and traffic clearance and to complete MVA’s training course at Northern Marianas College and pass an examination on the history, culture, scenic and historic sites, attractions, environmental protection and conservation laws of the Marianas.
The application fee for individual tour guides is $50, and tour guides will be required to display their badges when conducting tours.
Tour operators and tourist land/sea transport operators would be required to provide: 1) proof that the applicants maintain an office within the CNMI, 2) a certification that the applicant does not employ any tour guides that are not certified pursuant to the regulations, 3) proof that the applicant maintains a bank account in the CNMI under the business’ name, 4) the applicant’s business license, 5) the name of an employee or a retained independent contractor who is fluent in the English language, and 6) proof that the applicant is a member in good standing with the MVA.
The fee for a tour operators application is $100.
The certification would be valid for three years unless revoked or suspended, but the badge would need to be renewed every year.
“This program is new for all of us, and to ensure its smooth implementation we have carefully considered each step, from the scheduling of classes to accommodate all the tour guides we now have, to how best it should be enforced,” said Concepcion. “The tour guide certification program will be a work in progress, but it is absolutely necessary. We welcome feedback during this comment period and as we move forward.”
Violations may result in monetary sanctions, revocation of a certification and/or business license, refusal to issue or renew a certification, or equitable sanctions.
Under the current law, the MVA and other government agencies are responsible for enforcement. The MVA will also allow its security guards stationed at major tourist sites to act as enforcement officials.
The proposed regulations are available online on the CNMI Register at https://www.cnmilaw.org/pdf/cnmiregister/2017_Volume_39/2017_Number_07.pdf. (MVA)