Northern Marianas College’s School of Business Associate Professor Dr. Yunzi Zhang recently gave a presentation on constructing a tourism destination identity for the Northern Mariana Islands to the University of California, Berkeley’s Tourism Studies Working Group on February 26 via Zoom.
The Tourism Studies Working Group at UC Berkeley consists of more than 50 scholars throughout northern California. It includes faculty and graduate students from a wide variety of disciplines, among them anthropology, history, education, landscape architecture, sociology, political science, Spanish and Portuguese, ethnic studies, city planning, gender studies, and many others.
The presentation – named “Who Am I and Who Should I Be? – The Issues of Constructing a Tourism Destination Identity of the Northern Mariana Islands” – focuses on how the tourism identity and attributes of the Northern Mariana Islands have been constructed differently in recent decades.
Zhang explains in her presentation how the NMI’s colonization by Spain, Germany, and Japan, and the current affiliation it has with the United States makes it a persisting challenge for the indigenous islanders to encapsulate a unified identity of the NMI for different inbound tourist groups from China, Japan and Korea.
“Due to their tangled history, the three tourist groups have distinct expectations and imaginations of what the NMI resembles and has to offer,” Zhang said.
Zhang, who has been teaching a majority of the hospitality classes at NMC since 2017, holds a PhD in hospitality and tourism management from Purdue University. She also holds a master’s degree in hospitality management from Cornell University and Bachelor of Business Administration from George Washington University.