Defund the Deer Meat for Dinner advocates

How many Koreans and Japanese actually went to the CNMI because of some junket funded by the Marianas Visitors Authority? This should be a survey the legislature funds. Approach one out of every 25 tourists at every hotel on any given day and ask the question:

Did you come to Saipan because you saw our government’s familiarization tour or local office promo?

Actually, I’ll save you some money. That’s never happened.

Yet, the MVA just received more than $4 million to operate this fiscal year. Read: Payroll, contracts, and travel junkets. A kingdom unto its own, devoid of any consideration for the fiscal entanglement of the Commonwealth government and the doldrums of the CNMI economy MVA purports to sustain.

The CNMI’s tourism industry has every incentive to market itself; and it’s not like the hoteliers have no idea what to do. Want millions of Koreans and Japanese to see what the CNMI has to offer them as a vacation destination? Hire social media influencers to visit Saipan, Tinian, and Rota and post the beauty of the islands to their Instagram and TikTok pages.

Want the big travel networks in Korea and Japan to sell tour packages to the Commonwealth? Open a small liaison division within the governor’s office that networks with the airlines and the tour companies, and that often sends the governor himself to seal the deals.

Want the tourists to be attracted to whatever it is the social media influencers are showing them? Fund the Department of Public Works to maintain the tourist sites. Eliminate business impediments to sustainable night life and restaurant services. Do something about the Best Sunshine behemoth in the middle of Garapan. Offer incentives to the building owners and leaseholders throughout the tourist district to do something about their derelict properties.

It is questionable whether the MVA business model ever even worked, but even if it did in the past, that all is in the past. There is a new, more cost-effective way of marketing the CNMI to the millions of Koreans and Japanese just three hours away who are looking for a tropical American vacation on a budget.

And that emphasis on ‘American,’ is important here. It’s why I never referenced marketing jack to mainland China, though MVA has done nothing but push for Chinese tourism.

Think about this for a moment. According to the audited financials of the MVA published by Burger, Comer & Associates, MVA expended $6.4 million in public funds in 2020, and $4.7 million as well in 2021 on its payroll, contracts, and marketing of the CNMI. In the middle of the pandemic. To the tune of a gross waste of funds with hardly a return on investment. To compensate for the failure, MVA turns once again to Chinese tourist market potential despite multiple and credible reports of threats posed by spies and other bad actors from mainland China to the people of the Commonwealth.

MVA has become a multi-million dollar lobby group for an economic policy that flies in the face of national and local security.

But that isn’t all MVA did during the pandemic using public funds. With nary the squint of a protest, MVA allowed the former governor to take nearly $50,000 (this is a reported, unaudited amount) from the hotel occupancy tax that funds MVA to fund his personal excursion to the Northern Islands in the middle of Covid. Ralph Torres called it a public service to pay for the transportation and filming of the now infamous Deer Meat for Dinner boat trip up north.

MVA last year defended the use of funds, telling Edwin Propst the videos posted on YouTube generated more than 18 million views and provided more than $644 million in advertising value to the CNMI. Yup, 18 million people from the mainland United States who have zero desire and probably less money to travel all the way to Saipan saw those videos. Eighteen million YouTube views multiplied by zero tourists, I assure you, does not equal $644 million in advertising value to the CNMI.

Don’t ask the Guam Legislature to do that math; but any value multiplied by zero equals zero.

An organization that swears by an investment into a ridiculous Deer Meat for Dinner voyage should not be trusted to spend millions in public funds on real tourism. MVA should be functionally castrated and fiscally emaciated. Defund it. Spend the money on something important, or give it back to the taxpayers. Let those MVA executives and board members pay their own tickets to wherever in the world they want to go.

Defund MVA.


  • fizzlehack

      10/21/2023 at 3:50 AM

    Shows how little you know.

    No one visits Saipan to hunt deer, we charter boats to Rota.

    This article is click bait and nothing more.

    • Troy Torres

        10/22/2023 at 2:09 PM

      Hi. A tourist from Japan or Korea will need to fly into Saipan to get to anywhere else in the Northern Marianas.

  • Are your numbers solid? Zero people responded to that promo. I for one saw it from Guam and it regularly inspires me to take thought about traveling up north with traditional navigators at Ctech in Hagata to do just that. Certainly our contributions will be less than $1k but that in not zero.

  • vianney hocog

      10/22/2023 at 6:33 AM

    Please do write ups on “Village healthcare programs”. Villages are the first sites reflecting the beauty of the islands. But, with junglelike properties, broken cars and other debris just comfortably decaying in people’s homes, unattended dogs and ugly chikens houses, not to mention the trashes piled and being overgrown with weeds. This is Rota’s tourism reflection during daylight and darked allys and streets at night. Please do us a favor and show Rota as it is! Thank you.

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