WITH the CNMI-South Korea travel bubble taking effect this month, the Commonwealth continues to work on reviving its tourism industry.
Last week, Governor Ralph DLG Torres announced that the Biden administration had approved its request to the US Department of Homeland Security to re-include Hong Kong in the CNMI visa waiver program.
The CNMI administration sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on April 8, congratulating the Federal Administration for providing support to the Commonwealth during this pandemic, while formally requesting that DHS include Hong Kong again in the pandemic. the CNMI visa waiver program. in order to resume tourism safely.
Torres stressed the importance of resuming tourism with trusted travel partners to support the long-term well-being of CNMI residents.
“Our efforts to support a viable and prosperous American community here, and to lay the groundwork for economic diversification, rest on our ability to revive our tourism market,” he said.
After the Federal Administration granted the Hong Kong visa waiver request, Torres said, “This is great news as it allows us to launch plans to reopen tourism with a stable travel partner and beneficial for the CNMI. Hong Kong has not seen any local cases of Covid-19 for a month, and they are gradually vaccinating their population. Our plan with Hong Kong is to build on our Covid-19 protective measures, our vaccination rate and the beautification efforts of all our community partners to gradually bring our tourism back to a true sense of normalcy. This means more economic growth, which provides jobs for our local population, helps small businesses, restaurants and hotels, and funds government services. “
The governor also stressed that the resumption of tourism will always give priority to the health and safety of the people of the CNMI.
“We are committed to ensuring that our travel bubble with South Korea is well done to ensure the safety of South Korean visitors and our community,” he said.
The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers thanked the Biden administration for hearing and supporting the needs of the Marianas, and commended the governor and his team for working diligently to make this possible.
“As the Marianas begins to reopen tourism, we are working to establish strategic partnerships that will strengthen our tourism industry and support economic growth through the creation of jobs and income opportunities for local businesses and our government. The inclusion of Hong Kong in the CNMI visa waiver program reopens a valuable and attractive source market for the Mariana Islands that will ultimately benefit our residents and improve their quality of life, ”the council said.
“The council’s goal is to make the Marianas a world-class destination. As we reopen to the world, we are excited to share the transformation we have achieved and will continue to build in the years to come. “
Torres also expressed gratitude to the Biden administration, especially DHS Secretary Mayorkas and DHS, for their support and for acknowledging CNMI’s response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is an important first step, and I also thank our community for supporting us on the road to recovery. “