MVA: Grotto may reopen this week; cleanup at other sites continues

MARIANAS Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion expects the Department of Lands and Natural Resources to reopen the Grotto, one of the island’s popular tourist destinations, today, Nov. 12.

He said Saipan Adventure volunteers assisted in cleaning up the Grotto and making it accessible again on Oct. 30. They removed fallen trees to open the main roadway in Marpi, and clear the access road and hiking trail to the Forbidden Island, he added.

There are many other sites that need cleaning so MVA is working with the Division of Parks & Recreation, DLNR, the mayor’s office and other agencies “because the work is overwhelming for  MVA alone,” Concepcion said.

“We do not own any heavy equipment so we need community support. We encourage the people in Saipan and Tinian to volunteer their time to help clean our sites so we are prepared when tourists start arriving again,” Concepcion said.

For more information or to volunteer, call MVA at 664-3200 or  email [email protected].

Immediately after the typhoon hit Saipan, he said MVA made a thorough assessment of the tourist destinations on Saipan and Tinian.

 “All tourist sites on Saipan and Tinian sustained damage,” Concepcion said.

He added that a full assessment is still ongoing even as he reassures all visitors and residents that the CNMI government and its partners are doing everything to rehabilitate tourist sites on Saipan and Tinian. 

 “Together with our partners in the private sector we were able to clear the Last Command Post, the Grotto and help clean up around the Saipan international airport,” he said. 

“We partnered with [the Northern Marianas Dive Operators Association] to help clear the road to Laulau Bay via Kagman. Our team also helped clean up the Laulau dive site.”

Concepcion said the access road to San Vicente was partially destroyed and is impassible so it will need major repair by the Department of Public Works or the Saipan mayor’s office.

On Tinian, he said they have started cleaning up the Korean Memorial and the Santa Lourdes Shrine. 

He said MVA has also begun an informational campaign with its major source markets of Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and Russia to keep the market informed of what’s happening and what to expect in the CNMI after the typhoon.

“The tourism industry has taken a direct hit from this disaster but its full effect is yet to be seen,” he added. “Our aim is to minimize panic in the market.  At some point soon the tourism industry must continue to move forward as this is the economic engine of the CNMI.”

 Concepcion thanked Saipan Adventure, the Northern Marianas Dive Operators Association, the Japan-Saipan Travel Association, and Kinpachi Restaurant for their support in the restoration effort.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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