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Tourism summit on Jan. 25, 2018

(MVA) — The Marianas Tourism Education Council Tourism Summit for CNMI Public School System’s MY WAVE or Marianas Youth Welcome All Visitors Enthusiastically Club students on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan will feature a full lineup of on-and off-island speakers speaking on the theme “Live Your Culture, Love All Cultures.”

Andrew JonesAndrew Jones
Gerard van GilsGerard van Gils
Gordon MarcianoGordon Marciano
This year’s keynote speaker will be Andrew Jones, Guardian of Sanctuary Resorts and the immediate past chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association. Jones grew up in the hotel business as his parents managed Country Inns and Restaurants in the United Kingdom. Over the past 45 years, he has worked in numerous senior management and corporate positions for prestigious hotels, resorts and management companies in London, Bermuda, Canada, Hong Kong and across Asia.

In 1996, Jones founded and became the Guardian of Sanctuary Resorts, a resort management company creating responsible and sustainable tourism experiences where people rejuvenate their body, mind and spirit in an environmentally friendly space. Jones is also an active member of the board of trustees for the PATA foundation, advisor on CSR and responsible and sustainable tourism for PATA, and a member of the World Travel Market World Responsible Tourism Day Advisory Panel.

A certified hotel administrator of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and a fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, Jones was previously a member of the board of the Indian Ocean Tourism Organization and director, Asia Pacific affairs for the International Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Jones said he believes in directly contributing to the community in which he lives and is Chairman Emeritus of the KELY or Kids Everywhere Like You Support Group, a past president of the Rotary Club of Kowloon, and a supporter of numerous other charitable organizations and social ventures in Hong Kong.

The students will also hear from Gerard van Gils, 2017 CNMI Teacher of the Year as well as the 2017 Pacific Educator of the Year. Gils is the founder of the Mentor for a Meal events which have provided hundreds of high school students 1-on-1 professional mentorship. He also founded the Million Dollar Scholars which has helped send more than 40 students to universities on more than 4 Million Dollars in scholarship awards over the last two years.

Additional speakers will also include co-owner and managing director Gordon Marciano of tour company Pacific Development Inc. Marciano has been with PDI since 1991 and has been instrumental in the company’s work to market the Marianas, organize youth cultural exchange programs, promote indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian cultures to visitors, facilitate culture-based weddings, and conduct World War II historic tours. Marciano also serves with numerous community organizations, including Chamolinian Cultural Village, Canoe Federation, 500 Sails, Northern Marianas Humanities Council, Festival of Pacific Arts, and more.

“We’re looking forward to presenting an exciting lineup of speakers at the summit for students from the MY WAVE Clubs as they expand their knowledge of our tourism industry,” said MTEC chairwoman Vicky Benavente. “The tourism summit’s speakers will share how a strong reputation of culture and tourism working hand-in-hand benefits a destination. We feel this is a very positive message for our students in terms of economy, community and daily living in the Marianas.”

The summit is expected to gather nearly 300 MY WAVE Club members to learn more about tourism, with special emphasis on the unique aspects of the Marianas for heritage or cultural tourism.

The summit is also sponsored by T Galleria, Fiesta Resort & Spa, Kanoa Resort, and the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands. The following offices and organizations will also provide hands-on demonstrations at breakout stations during the summit: Marianas Visitors Authority, Micronesia Islands Nature Alliance, and Northern Marianas Trades Institute.

MTEC was formed in 2002 to heighten the community’s awareness of the importance of tourism to the well-being of the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. MTEC’s stated mission is three-fold: to foster community understanding and support of the visitor industry; educate the general public, especially school students, about the value, social benefits, and economic contributions made to the community by the visitor industry; and to instill, improve and promote the “Hafa Adai-Tirow” hospitality spirit throughout the island community.