Senate amends tour guide bill

THE Senate on Thursday passed an amended version of a measure that authorizes the Marianas Visitors Authority “to set additional qualifications to serve as a tour guide or tour operator and to engage in enforcement actions against those who do not comply with the statute.”

House Bill 20-83, which was introduced by Reps. Angel Demapan, Ivan Blanco and Joseph Leepan Guerrero, proposes to amend Public Law 18-58 which authorized MVA to regulate tour operators and tour guides. The bill now returns to the House of Representatives.

According to the amended bill: “In order to obtain a certification from MVA to conduct business as a tour operator or tourist land/sea transport operator, a person must: (a) be a member in good standing with MVA; (b) maintain an office within the CNMI: (c) not employ tour guides that have not been certified by MVA as required by 4 CMC Section 2173: (d) maintain a bank account in the CNMI under the business name: (e) employ or retain as an independent contractor at least one person who is fluent in the English language and (f) comply with such other terms and conditions designed to promote the professionalism of the tour industry as MVA may require by regulation, including the establishment of any certification fee that is necessary to recoup the costs of operating the programs authorized by this Article.”

Under the amended bill, “MVA may adopt such additional qualifications for tour guides by regulation as are necessary to promote the professionalism of the tour industry and may adopt a certification fee by regulation in such an amount that is necessary to recoup the costs of operating the programs authorized by this Article. (d) MVA training courses shall be developed by MVA in consultation with other relevant government agencies (e) Pursuant to the express intent of this Act to bring uniformity and regulation to all tour operators and tour guides, MVA shall not exempt any tour guides from the requirement of this Act.”

In addition, “MVA may adopt regulations to sanction any person who acts as a tour guide, a tour operator or a tourist land/sea transport operator in violation of this Article or in violation of MVA’s regulations. These sanctions may include revocation of a certification, refusal to issue a certification, monetary sanctions or equitable sanctions.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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