In a struggling tourist economy, nothing could be better than using federal dollars to build an added tourist attraction. Marianas Visitors Authority calls it "destination enhancement."
It has been nearly two months since then-President Bush declared the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. As promised, the monument resulted in worldwide attention for the natural wonders of the Marianas. News outlets in countries as far away and as diverse as Kuwait, Zimbabwe, Fiji, England, and Japan gave our monument room on their pages. The Marianas garnered more positive press in the first half of January that we have in the last 10 years. This attention will help us solidify a reputation as an eco-friendly tourist destination.The Friends of the Monument are dedicated to getting the benefits they asked for in their October Vision Statement and they need your help.
It is now time for us to turn our attention toward getting the other benefits promised when the monument was declared.
Specifically, the Bush administration promised us a visitors center, federal jobs, and an enforcement/research boat. When can we expect to get those benefits? Can the construction of a visitors center be considered part of Obama’s stimulus plan?
A visitors center will improve our ability to attract tourists. It would serve as an additional attraction for tourists, plus our local children would gain educational benefits from its creation. The sooner the process to build a visitors center begins, the better.
When I agreed to support the monument, it was with the understanding that there would be benefits for the CNMI. I am very worried that these benefits will end up in Guam.
AGNES M. MCPHETRES
San Vicente, Saipan