BY IVA MAURIN
Saipan Correspondent

Jerry Tan, CEO of Tan Holdings and co-chair of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers; addresses business representatives on Aug. 21 at the Civic Center in Susupe.

Photo by Iva Maurin

SUSUPE, Saipan — Heeding to the call to move the Northern Mariana Islands into a world-class destination, more than 50 businesses and private organizations have now taken the ‘five-year commitment’ pledge to adopt and improve various tourist sites and community facilities all around the islands.

The commitment is more than just talk.

On Aug. 21 at the Civic Center in Susupe the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers heralded the work of 60 public-private partnerships, all of which have spent hours of volunteer labor to fix, clean, and beautify beaches, parks, pavilions, and village sports facilities in the islands.

Capitalizing on the downtime in tourism due to the pandemic, the PPP Project is an initiative of the council for the community to take part in its destination enhancement program, aimed towards rebuilding the NMI after the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018.

“We do take the council work very seriously,” council co-chair and CEO of Tan Holdings Jerry Tan said. “The CNMI, particularly Tinian and Saipan, went through two huge typhoons in 2015 and in 2018. Two years later — barely recovered from the two typhoons — we have the pandemic,” he said.

“The island is actually in a very bad condition. No place in the world can really survive two back-to-back super typhoons. [There are] a lot of damages, and this is where the PPP comes in.”

With tourism the NMI’s main industry, the council focused on rehabilitation of tourist sites. Now, a year since the PPP was initiated, Tan said that the council and its partners are very happy with the collective work that has been put in.

“The council cannot really do it alone; the government cannot do it alone in order for us to be successful as a tourist destination. Tourism is the only industry that we have, providing all the jobs, generating all the revenue.”

Among the businesses recognized were Tasi Tours & Transportation Inc. (for the adoption of the Beach Road Flower Garden), Triple J Enterprises Inc. (San Isidro Beach Park, Laly 4, and Jones Beach), E-Land Group (Paupau Beach), I Love Saipan (Mt. Tapochau), P&A Corp. (Korean Peace Memorial), and Bank of Guam (Garapan Basketball Court).

Also recognized were Lezon International Inc., Saipan A-Venture LLC, Divewish, and Bibong Corp. (The Grotto), CTSI Logistics (Ladder Beach), Kanoa Resort Saipan (Susupe Beach Park), LJ’s Lawn Care LLC (Garapan sidewalk curbs), Bridge Capital LLC (Garapan Central Park), and Tan Holdings/Tan Siu Lin Foundation (Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, Bird Island Lookout, Beach Road Pathway, and Last Command Post).

In Rota, the Hotel Valentino was recognized for its adoption of the Benita Manglona Buildings, Mendiola Park, Sinapalo Basketball Court and Youth Center, and
Airport Road.

“This is only the beginning,” Tan said. “What we have done the last 12 months is great, but cleaning up and repairing the damage does not take us to the level of a world-class destination. So, the next phase that the Council will be looking at is transformation.”

In July the council hosted a presentation by tourism consultant Darlena Zhai on the plan to develop the CNMI as multi-island integrated destination. This is in line with the Council’s earlier announcement of its intent for the NMI to become a world-class, high-end tourist destination by 2031. mbj