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Last updateWed, 18 Sep 2019 12am







    Tuesday, September 17, 2019-6:13:30P.M.






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DCRM to conduct user capacity assessments to protect tourism sites

(Office of the Governor) — Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios announced that the Division of Coastal Resources Management under the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality will conduct user capacity assessments under its Sustainable Sites initiative to protect tourism sites on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Barometer’s August 2017 report, the CNMI is the third fastest growing tourism destination in the world. The Marianas Visitors Authority reported tourist arrivals of 607,593 in FY 2018 and 653,150 in FY 2017.

Governor Torres noted that while the numbers bolster the CNMI economy, the administration, private partners, and residents have come together to promote sustainable tourism development and management, as user-conflict becomes an ever-present issue at our popular tourist sites, like the Grotto.

“Considering tourism is the CNMI’s primary economic driver, it is critical that we continue the work to make informed, data-driven decisions when developing carrying capacities for the Marianas’ prime tourist sites. To successfully implement tourism fees at sites, setting up fee structure frameworks and investigating tourists’ willingness-to-pay is integral to ensuring the CNMI is efficiently utilizing a potential revenue stream and enabling sustainable tourism practices. This is what the Sustainable Sites initiative is all about,” Governor Torres said.

DCRM Director Janice Castro said the division is in the process of conducting user capacity assessments of the CNMI’s prime tourist sites, as a component of the Sustainable Sites project.

“Started in August 2018, the objectives of Sustainable Sites are to understand influential tourist behaviors, tourists’ willingness-to-pay, develop site-specific carrying plans based on tourism impact assessments, and provide legislators and resource managers with data driven recommendations. This includes identifying how much a visitor is willing to pay for our valuable resources, how many users a site can sustainably carry at a time, and recommendations for a sustainable CNMI tourism industry,” Castro said.

Lt. Governor Palacios said the Sustainable Sites initiative is centered on achieving objectives through actionable items such as surveying visitor use of prime tourist sites, evaluating environmental indicators, and capturing visitor satisfaction, and willingness-to-pay.

“Balancing environmental protection and economic viability is always a complex issue, but through input from tourism industry members, our government agencies, and us as policymakers, we can find the right solutions for these set of problems. The goal ultimately is to preserve our tourism sites for both our residents and visitors for generations to come,” Lt. Governor Palacios said.

The Sustainable Sites meetings are expected to occur throughout the Fall of 2019 and Spring of 2020. If you have any questions, reach out to the project contact, Kelsey McClellan at

For more information, visit DCRM’s website at