Gov’t to collect admission fee at Grotto

AN admission fee will soon be collected at the Grotto and other popular tourist sites on Saipan.

Officials, however, have yet to discuss the fee amount.

“We will start with the Grotto and there may also be a plan to collect similar entrance fees at other sites,” Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality acting administrator Eli Cabrera said in an interview.

The other sites include Suicide Cliff, Banzai Cliff, Mt. Tapochao and Ladder Beach.

Cabrera said the bureau needs to start imposing fees to raise funds for maintenance of tourist areas.

For example, he added, there has been an increase in littering at tourists sites. “So we need funding clean up those areas.”

Cabrera said BECQ, the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and the Marianas Visitors Authority have agreed that the user fee should be under the control of DLNR but with infrastructure improvements and litter control coordinated among the three agencies.

DLNR Secretary Anthony Benavente said they likewise agreed that it would be beneficial to utilize a ticketing system to control traffic, with each visitor being provided with an informational brochure describing the rules and regulations before entering the Grotto.

He said MVA is creating a safety booklet which will be translated into different languages and distributed to tourists when they arrive at the site or through the tour operators.

According to Cabrera, MVA, DLNR and BECQ have also discussed the preliminary results of the Grotto user capacity survey. He said many respondents suggested a trial limit of 20 to 40 people only in the waters of the Grotto.

Benavente said the online survey is still open and they need more input from the Department of Public Safety, other first responders, dive operators and the community.

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Cabrera said they have yet to discuss the amount of the Grotto entrance fee. Benavente, for his part, said a public announcement will be issued soon.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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