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Marianas Variety: MVA, NMC ready for tour guide certificate classes (August 22, 2017)

(MVA) — The Marianas Visitors Authority and Northern Marianas College executed a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 11, 2017, to formalize classes for the MVA’s tour guide certification program. Classes are tentatively slated to begin in October 2017, once regulations governing the program are formally adopted.

“We’re enthusiastic to be moving forward with NMC on the scheduling of classes for the tour guide certification program,” said MVA Managing Director Christopher A. Concepcion. “The college has a full complement of excellent instructors who we are confident will help raise the caliber of tour guides in the Marianas’ and, in doing so, help build upon our reputation as a premiere destination.”

The 20 hours of class instruction will be held Monday through Friday beginning at 5 p.m. and will include: CNMI History, CNMI Geography, CNMI Rules and Regulations, Principles of Tour Guiding/Tour Operations, Tour Guide Customer Service, Tour Guide Safety & Security, Protecting the Environment, and CNMI Culture and Legends. Instructors include historian Scott Russell, NMC Social Sciences and Fine Arts Department Chair Thomas D. Sharts, M.Ed., NMC Criminal Justice Program Coordinator Zerlyn Taimanao, NMC Distance Learning Coordinator and local business owner William Hunter, NMC Business Instructor Bobbie Hunter, NMC Nursing Department Chair Rose Tudela RN and Instructor Johnny Aldan RN, NMC Natural Resource Program Coordinator Alfred De Torres, and indigenous culture expert Peter Muna.

Tour guides will be required to complete the training course and pass a written test to receive certification. As proposed under draft regulations, individual tour guides will also be required to provide police and traffic clearance. The application fee for individual tour guides is $50, and tour guides will be required to display their badges when conducting tours. The certification would be valid for three years unless revoked or suspended, but the badge would need to be renewed every year.

Tour operators and tourist land/sea transport operators would be required to provide: 1) proof that the applicants maintain an office within the CNMI, 2) a certification that the applicant does not employ any tour guides that are not certified pursuant to the regulations, 3) proof that the applicant maintains a bank account in the CNMI under the business’ name, 4) the applicant’s business license, 5) the name of an employee or a retained independent contractor who is fluent in the English language, and 6) proof that the applicant is a member in good standing with MVA. The fee for a tour operator’s application is $100.

Concepcion also noted that the program will support regulatory agencies in meeting their enforcement requirements.

“There are a number of laws and regulations already on the books that, if enforced, would be beneficial for tourism and the community. The tour guide certification program will educate tour guides on many of those statutes, which should help enforcement agencies as they continue to ensure both residents and tourists follow commonwealth laws and regulations,” said Concepcion.

“MVA will announce the formal launch of the program and the availability of applications once the regulations are finalized in September, and we encourage tour guides, tour operators, and tourist land/sea transport operators to begin compiling the required documents now.”

Violations may result in monetary sanctions, revocation of a certification and/or business license, refusal to issue or renew a certification, or equitable sanctions.

Under current law, MVA and other government agencies are responsible for enforcement. MVA will also allow its security guards stationed at major tourist sites to act as enforcement officials.

For more information, contact MVA tour guide certification manager Kuen-Hee Han at [email protected] or 664-3200.

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