THE new 40-year lease agreement between the Hyatt Regency Saipan and the CNMI government brings the number of globally-recognized hotel brands in the Marianas to two.

The continued presence of Hyatt Regency Saipan, which is operated by Japan’s Kobe Portopia Hotel Corp., and the addition of the Crowne Plaza Resort Saipan (the former Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan) support our efforts in reviving the tourism industry and marketing the Marianas as a world-class, multi-island destination.

A commissioned study by the Governor's Council of Economic Advisers entitled “Sustainably Developing the Marianas into a Multi-Island Integrated Tourism Destination” and authored by tourism expert Darlena Zhai, provides recommendations for how to transform the Marianas as a tourism product. One of these recommendations includes branding and upgrading resorts and revitalizing facilities on Saipan, which serves as the Marianas’ center of tourism and business activities.

The Crowne Plaza has been undergoing renovations since August to meet the international brand’s standards, while the Hyatt Regency has allotted $45 million for the construction and upgrade of its hotel amenities. The ongoing developments at the Crowne Plaza provide jobs and generate revenues for the construction industry and other stakeholders, and more people will be back to work when the hotel reopens next year. Hyatt, on the other hand, has retained a percentage of its workforce despite the tourism industry taking a hit from the pandemic early last year and is slowly getting back into full operation while catering to both local and international clients.

The anticipated upgrades at both hotel properties couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Marianas is building up to welcome visitors back. Once these projects are completed, visitors and residents could look forward to better quality service. The great impression that we will leave tourists will also be an effective tool in promoting the Marianas through the brands’ global clientele.

A study of 21 global tourism destinations found that chain-affiliated hotels perform better than independent hotels in increasing foreign demand for the destination. Branded hotels have features, such as loyalty programs, that allow them to entice frequent travelers. With branding, the Marianas will not have to reinvent the wheel in finding ways to revitalize the tourism industry. It can adapt the best practices that have been institutionalized since the 1980s within destinations across the world.

Through international branding, the Marianas can increase the potential for higher average room rates and expand the market of potential quality travelers. Globally established brands can help provide high-quality experiences that increase tourism-related revenue and spending per visitor.

Globally recognized branded hotels are also regarded for their high standards and must operate under stringent requirements. This practice will ensure that prime public lands and public land leases are granted to qualified and legitimate investors. These investors play a critical role in the Marianas’ efforts to rebuild its economy and provide a better quality of life for its people.

As we wait for the transformations of the Hyatt Regency and the Crowne Plaza to be completed, let’s do our part in the upkeep and maintenance of other facilities on Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.

Read the complete Sustainably Developing the Marianas into a Multi-Island Integrated Tourism Destination report at cnmieconomy.com/reports. Engage with the GCEA on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact at gceacnmi@gmail.com.

Alex Sablan is the vice president for business development at Tan Holdings Corporation and chairperson of the Tourism Infrastructure Reboot Committee of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisers. As an advisory council for Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, the GCEA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the Marianas for all residents.

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