21 Mar 2017
- By Junhan B. Todiño - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
MARIANAS Visitors Authority board chairwoman Marianne Aldan-Pierce says if the commonwealth government wants foreign investors to stay in the CNMI, then they should be allowed to lease public lands for periods longer than 40 years.
In a recent MVA board meeting, Aldan-Pierce noted the recommendation of consulting firm Horwath HTL to immediately address the issue of the hotels’ land leases.
“It’s critical that something happens this year,” and the “quickest fix” is to amend the law, she added.
Horwath HTL was commissioned by MVA to conduct a study on CNMI tourism.
Aldan-Pierce said many agencies have their own master plans, but nobody has taken everything together to look at the bigger picture.
“What would happen if everything moves along as projected by everybody?” she asked, adding that the Horwath HTL study attempts to the answer that question.
Another problem that has to be resolved, according to the study, are the long wait-times at the Saipan airport’s immigration counters.
“It will continue to be an issue until we get more [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] people at those counters,” she said.
She added that they should also look into the current flight schedules, “but we cannot tell the airlines that we want them to fly at a specific time. So how do we resolve that? We are not quite sure what the answer is but a dialogue should start because it’s a very big issue.”
Aldan-Pierce said before the U.S. federalized local immigration, the CNMI government had its own system.
“We knew the people coming in because we had vetted them prior to their coming in, and we knew where they were staying, we knew how many people were here, and how many had left.
“Today we really need to sit down with the feds and work with them to see what makes sense for us — it may be different from the way Guam is being treated now. We don’t know. They say no, they can’t have two separate systems, but we say we can help control the number of people coming in.”