Tour guides come into compliance


Tour guides of Saipan Travel Inc. receive their certificates from Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher A. Concepcion, far left, at the MVA office in San Jose, Saipan on Jan. 25, 2018. Also pictured are MVA tour guide program manager Kuen-Hee Han, second from left, and MVA deputy managing director Judy Torres, far right. (MVA)

In less than three months, over 100 tour guides have already been certified under the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Tour Guide Certification Program.

“We are extremely pleased to have the cooperation and support of the many tour guides and tour operators who received their training and earned their certifications in these few short months,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Even with staggered schedules, some of the larger companies have already completed the certification of all their guides, even 20 or more. This is the beginning of a higher level of service, and expectedly, higher visitor satisfaction with our destination.”

Certified tour operators include Pacific Eagle Enterprise, Hana Tour Service, Yellow Balloon Tour, Saipan Adventure, Long Tong Tour, Zheng Chen Corp., Saipan Grace Tour Agency, J.J. Corp., Light Star Corp., Century Tours Ocean Plus, Modern Tour, Saipan Travel Inc., and Pacific Micronesia Tours.

The MVA is focusing new attention on ensuring all guides have at least applied and met all requirements, while they await classes.

“We are being proactive in reaching out to tour guides at their place of business and even at tourist sites, working to ensure they have applied and have at least a temporary permit to operate while they work toward completing certification,” said tour guide certification manager Kuen- Hee Han. “We understand the ports police are also starting to check permits at the airport when they see the need, and we are very grateful for this cross-agency enforcement support.”

The Northern Marianas College provides 20 hours of class instruction on Monday through Friday beginning at 5pm, including CNMI history, CNMI geography, CNMI rules and regulations, principles of tour guiding/tour operations, tour guide customer service, tour guide safety & security, protecting the environment, and CNMI culture and legends. Additional classes will be provided beginning February 2018.

“Some tour guides have shared that they feel a new sense of responsibility since taking the classes,” Concepcion said. “They feel a heightened sense of ownership, and some have even started picking up garbage during breaks in their tour at Managaha and other locations. It’s a new generation of guides for the Marianas.”

Tour guide application fees are $50, tour operator application fees are $100, and the tuition to attend classes is $250. Tour guides will be required to complete the training course and pass a final comprehensive exam to receive certification. As proposed under draft regulations, individual tour guides will also be required to provide police and traffic clearances. Tour guides will be required to display their badges when conducting tours. The certification would be valid for three years unless revoked or suspended, but the badge would need to be renewed every year.

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.

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.

For an application and checklist, email For more information, contact Han at or 664-3200. (MVA)

Press Release
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