Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 20 Jul 2019 12am

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    Friday, July 19, 2019-8:05:05P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Leepan: MVA should get adequate funding for off-shore promos

HOUSE Committee on Commerce and Tourism Chairman Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero said he “highly recommends” that the administration provides adequate funding for the Marianas Visitors Authority’s off-shore promotions.

In an interview on Tuesday, Leepan expressed his disappointment when he found out that MVA is way behind in payments to its offshore offices that promote CNMI to its main markets.

These include Access Inc. in Japan, Skywalker Communications Group LLC in China and AVIAREPS Marketing Garden in South Korea, Taiwan and Russia.

A list provided to Leepan’s office indicates that MVA still owes Access Inc. $347,559; Skywalker Communications, $397,477; AVIAREPS Korea, $258,501; AVIAREPS Russia, $41,195; and AVIAREPS Taiwan, $29,403.

The total amount due in March was over $1 million, Guerrero said.

“MVA must have already incurred new debts for the months of April to May, and now we’re in June so we now probably owe more,” he added.

He said the portion of the hotel occupancy tax collections that the Department of Finance transferred to MVA totaled $750,000 only —$500,000 on April 9 and $250,000 last week.

As of March, MVA was owed $2.9 million in hotel occupancy tax collections.

“That’s only for January to March so Finance should owe MVA more than that amount now,” Guerrero said.

He said MVA has “restricted” funds that the board wants to use for a new MVA office.

Guerrero said the MVA board should use those funds to pay its offshore promoters.

“Their ability to promote the CNMI as tourist destination should not be impeded,” he added.

Otherwise, tourist arrivals will continue to decline, Guerrero said. “The CNMI economy relies on tourism and it is the Commonwealth’s bread and butter.”