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MVA issues first tour guide certificates

(MVA) — The first graduates of the Marianas Visitors Authority’s Tour Guide Certification Program received their certificates on Dec. 28, 2017, marking 43 tour guides from seven tour operators who have received the recognition.

Certified tour operators were Pacific Eagle Enterprise, Hana Tour Service, Yellow Balloon Tour, Saipan Adventure, Long Tong Tour, Zheng Chen Corp., Saipan Grace Tour Agency, J.J. Corp., and Light Star Corp.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize our tour operators and tour guides who have demonstrated their proficiency on Marianas’ history, culture, wildlife, regulations, and more. They are often the first and last impression on our visitors and are very important for ensuring visitor satisfaction with their trip,” said MVA Managing Director Christopher A. Concepcion. “As a destination, the Marianas will provide a more informed, meaningful, and safe visit for our visitors as we continue to train guides and operators as quickly as possible through our partnership with Northern Marianas College.”

Tour guides of Hana Tour Service, J.J. Corp., Light Star Corp., Pacific Eagle Enterprise, Yellow Balloon Tour, Long Tong Tour, Saipan Grace Tour Agency, and Zheng Chen Corp, receive their Marianas Tour Guide Certification from Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Christopher A. Concepcion, second left, at the MVA office in San Jose on Dec. 28, 2017.

Northern Marianas College began classes for the program in Oct. 23, 2017. The 20 hours of class instruction is Monday through Friday beginning at 5 p.m. and includes: 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.

“At this point, all tour guides and tour operators should be signed up, in our data base, and at least on the waiting list for training,” said tour guide certification program manager Kuen-Hee Han. “The certification regulations are now fully enforceable, so we encourage anyone who has not yet come in to do so.”

Tour guide application fees are $50, tour operator application fees are $100, and the tuition fees to attend classes are $250. 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 and traffic clearances. 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 guides of Saipan Adventure are among the first to receive their Marianas Tour Guide Certification from Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Christopher A. Concepcion, far left, at the MVA office in San Jose on Dec. 28, 2017.  MVA photos

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.