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Tour guide certification classes to begin Oct. 23

(MVA) — The Marianas Visitors Authority began accepting applications for the Tour Guide Certification Program on Oct. 11 while and Northern Marianas College will begin classes for the program on Oct. 23.

“Regulations are finalized, classes are set, and applications are ready for the Tour Guide Certification Program,” said MVA acting Managing Director Judy Torres.   “We acknowledge that there will be trial and error on this new program, but we are ready to move forward and grateful to be partnering with NMC on this important initiative. The Marianas needs it.”

The regulations were published in the CNMI Register on Sept. 28, 2017, and are now formally enacted.

“We are excited to be collaborating with MVA in moving the Tour Guide Certification Program forward,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “The program lays a solid foundation to help ensure that tour guides are equipped with consistent information not only about the CNMI’s history, culture, and environment but also about local rules and regulations that are relevant to tour activities.”

Tour guide application fees are $50, tour operator application fees are $100, and the tuition fees to attend classes are $250.

The 20 hours of class instruction will be held Monday through Friday beginning at 5 p.m. and will include: CNMI History, CNMI Geography, CNMI Rules and Regulations, Principles of Tour Guiding/Tour Operations, Tour Guide Customer Service, Tour Guide Safety & Security, Protecting the Environment, and CNMI Culture and Legends. Instructors are highly qualified in their subjects and academic fields of instruction.

Tour guides will be required to complete the training course and pass a final comprehensive exam to receive certification.   As proposed under draft regulations, individual tour guides will also be required to provide police clearance and traffic history. Tour guides will be required to display their badges when conducting tours. The certification would be valid for three years unless revoked or suspended, but the badge would need to be renewed every year.

Tour operators and tourist land/sea transport operators would be required to provide: 1) proof that the applicants maintain an office within the CNMI, 2) a certification that the applicant does not employ any tour guides that are not certified pursuant to the regulations, 3) proof that the applicant maintains a bank account in the CNMI under the business’ name, 4) the applicant’s business license, 5) the name of an employee or a retained independent contractor who is fluent in the English language, and 6) proof that the applicant is a member in good standing with MVA.

Violations may result in monetary sanctions, revocation of a certification and/or business license, refusal to issue or renew a certification, or equitable sanctions. Under the current law, MVA and other government agencies are responsible for enforcement. MVA will also allow its security guards stationed at major tourist sites to act as enforcement officials.

For an application and checklist, email info@mymarianas.com.

For more information, contact MVA tour guide certification manager Kuen-Hee Han at khan@mymarianas.com or 664-3200.