A big round of applause must go out to Tina Sablan for her efforts to keep the public informed. If you have not already checked out her blog you should. I came across this today after getting an email alert from another concerned citizen.
House Committee on Commerce and Tourism
Tuesday, February 26, @ 2:00pm, in the House Chamber, with the Marianas Visitors Authority to discuss MVA operations and other issues.
I think I'll have to see about attending this forum for an update since getting anything out of MVA besides the EMO warnings of volcanic haze 2 days late is next to impossible. Perhaps the legislators will have a little more luck than I.
I was asked on Harry Blalock's radio show last week if I felt MVA was doing everything it could to help promote diving here. As usual it was a long and loaded question from Harry but the short answer is NO - absolutely not! They are failing miserably.
That's not to say that a section of the diving market is not performing well but rather, that the limited success has nothing to do with MVA. The potential of the dive market with a well laid out plan that encompasses a world wide market is so much more than what we have now. But, this concept seems to be falling on deaf ears at MVA.
Up until now MVA has deferred their marketing "plan" to the Northern Mariana Dive Operators Association. NMDOA consists almost entirely of small, Japanese dive shops, most of which are not members of MVA. For the most part, over the years, these shops have done a good job spreading the word to the Japanese market. According to PADI stats from 2006, Saipan certifies nearly 15% of all new divers out of Japan. According to MVA's own stats divers make up nearly 20% of all Japanese tourist and about 25% of the 35% who come back for a repeat visit are also divers.
Even with these numbers NMDOA gets very little support from MVA, financially or otherwise.
Imagine if they did. Better yet, imagine if there was a plan set forth that did not narrowly promote to only one customer base through a group with no vested interest in the growth of the market as a whole! Imagine what could happen if the past success in Japan could be repeated for Korea, China, and Russia.
It will be interesting up on the hill today to hear if any of these thoughts have gotten though to anyone at MVA. No doubt they will ask the elected officials for more money. I'm sure more cash would be a good thing but, I'm also sure it wont solve MVA's most pressing problem(s)!