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Governor: NMI looking for ways to reopen tourism industry

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres is hoping that in the next 90 days, at least one international flight will bring in tourists to the island.

In a press briefing Friday on KKMP radio, the governor said the CNMI is “working with our partners in [South] Korea [and] in Japan,” even as the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Marianas Visitors Authority continue to “look at options [or] ways to open up our market to get the first [international] flight in — that’s the biggest challenge.”

The governor’s Economic Council of Advisors, for its part, has formulated a reopening plan and presented it to the House Committee on Commerce and Tourism last week.

Torres reiterated that public health must remain the top priority. “We have to balance our public health [and] safety, working with our hospital, [Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna, Covid-19 Task Force Chairman Warren Villagomez], and our business partners.”

He added, “We hope that in the very, very near future, we would get back…our only industry here, which is tourism.”

He said the CNMI has three major markets only: South Korea, China, and Japan.

“Obviously, China, at this point, is out of the question. With Japan, we’re working on it. I know that they also have challenges, so South Korea will be our only opportunity  to [revive our tourisms industry].”

 

The governor is hoping that “in the very, very near future,” the CNMI can reopen for tourism. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

The governor said, “If we’re able to open up Korea, and they see the success rate of our low [number of Covid-19] cases, the way we operate here in the CNMI,  how we address inbound cases, and with our alternate care site ready — I still hope we never get to use it. But I hope that [these factors will]  open up more [tourism] markets.”

The governor said Managaha has reopened, but the Grotto and Banzai Cliff remain closed.

“We met with MVA and some of the government entities. We want to renovate these areas. We’re actually waiting for some of the quotations this week [so we can] start doing some renovations at these sites and once we reopen them for our tourists, [they’ll] be in good shape.”

He added, “Right now, the facilities are not up and running, and some, if not all, of these tourist sites need some renovations, so for safety reasons, they’re not open at this point.”

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