GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, together with the Marianas Visitors Authority and other tourism stakeholders, proclaimed May as Tourism Month.
At the proclamation signing ceremony held in the governor’s conference room on Capital Hill, MVA Executive Director Priscilla Iakopo said, “It has been a difficult time over the last year for tourism in the Marianas. For some of our partners, it has not only been difficult, it has also been devastating. Nonetheless, we see the spirit of ‘Marianas Strong’ is still with us.”
Iakopo highlighted how the CNMI has protected its community against Covid-19 and is now trying to revive the local economy.
She also noted the ingenuity of the business community to keep establishments open in the midst of the global pandemic.
“Despite all of the changes, we are pushing through with Tourism Month this year because we are moving into a new normal post-Covid-19, and to bring awareness that tourism is everybody’s business,” she said.
This month is jam-packed with events that will help to promote tourism in the CNMI, including a student essay writing contest, “Mission Not Impossible” activities, the launch of the “Hafa Adai/Tirow” campaign, radio trivia, and a walk-a-thon.
As for the Taste of Marianas event that takes place every May, Iakopo said that the MVA team is working hard with the board to ensure that the event still takes place.
“It is very popular, not only here in our local community, but internationally as well,” she said.
Governor Torres, for his part, said: “We need to keep our islands clean. We really do. When we go to the beach, if we can clean up [after] more than ourselves, that’s better for all of us... Please help clean our environment. It’s what we showcase... It’s the only way that we can get our tourism back.”
He added, “We’re pushing hard to get the CNMI into the world-class-destination [category]. There’s a lot of transformation happening, but we need the community and we need our partners.”
"It’s going to be a long process for us to get our tourism back, but we are prioritizing all of the efforts [and] the resources that we have and that we can to bring them back... Together, we can,” Torres said.
Lt. Governor Palacios said despite the shutdown of tourism in the Commonwealth, “we continue to try to work in this downtime to see where we can improve.”
He noted that tourism has had “its ups and downs, but mostly ups. I think we need to tell that story…. We need to think outside of the usual things that we do as a government and as a community in terms of how we’re going to improve, reform, or transform our industry to something that’s uniquely different from what we’ve done before.”
The Torres-Palacios administration at the same time extended its gratitude to tourism partners, government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other community partners for participating in the revitalization of the local economy and the renovation of public sites, including through the Private Public Partnership under the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.