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By Jojo Dass

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (May 2, 2000 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---A United States mainland-based sea cruising company has indicated interest in operating a vessel in the Northern Marianas, according to Rep. Dino M. Jones (D-Saipan).

Jones said the plan could boost local efforts to re-invigorate the tourism industry.

"We met with Sea Cruise Development Company. This company is interested to come in," said Jones, who arrived this week from Washington, D.C. along with House Vice Speaker Alejo M. Mendiola (R-Rota).

The two were part of the delegation led by House Speaker Benigo R. Fitial (R-Saipan) to D.C.

Jones noted that Sea Cruise would have no difficulty operating in commonwealth waters.

"The CNMI has had no cases of piracy. The weather here is good. The CNMI is still untapped in terms of cruising ventures," he explained.

Another factor that could figure in, said Jones, is that a sea cruise is less labor intensive.

And with CNMI already having hundreds of guest workers employed in the local tourism industry, a sea cruise company could easily fill in its labor needs from here.

Jones said he will be working with the Marianas Visitors Authority on the matter.

"I will coordinate with MVA to open up more communication and draw up a plan," he said.

Jones said it was initially projected to have the luxury liner cruise NMI waters and then go on to other neighboring islands.

With a sea cruise company operating from the commonwealth, officials said, the Northern Marianas would have a better chance of attracting more visitors and expanding its tourism market.

Jones said Sea Cruise officials were among the people the House leadership met with while in Washington, D.C.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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