GUALO RAI Saipan — Three people familiar to the business community are being named for the top job at the Marianas Visitors Authority according to Journal sources.
On April 3 MVA announced it was accepting applications for managing director until April 17.
Lynn A. Knight vice president for corporate affairs at Tan Holdings Corp. and general manager of Century Hotel — a Tan property is one possible candidate. She told the Journal that she enjoys her job and has not made up her mind on whether to apply for the MVA post. “I really like what I am doing at Tan Holdings Corp. I enjoy working for my current employer very much.” She said a number of people had talked to her about the position. “There are some people that I know in the community even outside the community that have asked me if I’m interested maybe because of my background. I haven’t made a decision.”
Knight has been involved in the tourism industry for several years previously owning an advertising agency. She has held a number of community positions including president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and now chairs the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands a group of about 30 hotels and various tourism-related establishments on Saipan. Knight said “These are very critical times for the tourism industry.”
James A. Santos acting secretary of the Department of Commerce was also mentioned as a possible applicant. He said he was “still undecided.”
“I don’t know yet ” he told the Journal. ‘This time I have to look at my options.”
Santos who was deputy director for marketing and promotions at MVA in 1999 applied for the post in 2004 when Jonas Ogren managing director decided not to renew his contract. Santos went into private practice when he did not get the job then joined the Department of Commerce as an economist in 2003. He became acting secretary after Clarence Tenorio Jr. supermarket head buyer at Joeten; declined the post in February for personal reasons. “I have a lot of work (being acting secretary) ” Santos said.
MVA’s acting managing director is Teresa P. Castro accountant.
Another person expected to submit an application according to Journal sources is Ronald D. Sablan who was chairman of HANMI from 1996 until September 2004. He managed the family-owned Pacific Gardenia Hotel and the Sunset Bar & Grill resigning from HANMI when the hotel filed for bankruptcy following failure to make payments tothe Commonwealth Development Authority. Pacific Gardenia owes CDA more than $2.4 million. The establishment had also been more than five years delinquent in its payments. It has been in receivership since late 2004.
Sablan has not returned phone calls to the Journal. Polly De Leon Guerrero human resource specialist at MVA said the board expects to come up with a decision about two weeks after all documents are reviewed and applicants screened depending on the number of applicants.
The post is classified as an ungraded salary position with a pay scale of more than $50 000 a year. The salary of the previous managing director Vicky I. Benavente was $70 000. As of April 11 two females had submitted applications. Due to confidentiality MVA declined to give the names.
While in a top cabinet position the incoming director will face a number of challenges starting with a reduced budget for operations and marketing at a time when the authority is under the microscope to promote the Northern Mariana Islands in the wake of the pullout of Japan Airlines in October 2005.
On April 6 Jerry L. Tan president and chief operating officer of Tan Holdings Corp. was elected chairman; Marian Aldan-Pierce president of DFS Saipan vice chairman; Keiji Matsumura general manager of Pacific Development Inc. treasurer; and Rita L. Arkle board secretary.
Other board members are Edward U. Maratita secretary and former Rota senator;
Seiji Sato general manager of Pacific Micronesia Tours; J.M. Guerrero president of J.M. Guerrero & Associates; Byung Kyu “B.K.” Park general manager of World Resort Saipan; and Emma Villagomez sales manager at DFS Saipan. MBJ