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By Edith G. Alejandro Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 11, 2001 – Saipan Tribune/Abridged)---Tourism industry players yesterday launched the Commonwealth's newest campaign to lure more visitors into the islands, amid the global travel scare caused by last month's suicide attacks on the U.S.

The Marianas Visitors Authority will station the Saipanda mascot at Saipan International Airport to welcome arriving passengers, as well as wave goodbye to outbound visitors.

The MVA, in partnership with the private sector, also launched the "Be Our Guest" hospitality program, which banks on the friendliness of the local people.

The program was conceived in partnership between the MVA and the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth Ports Authority, the Japan Saipan Travel Agency, Northern Marianas College, the Public School System, and CNMI's signatory airlines.

Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio said the program will help educate the community about the importance of the islands' tourism industry.

"We should bring in more tourists and find a way to show courtesy to our visitors. We should find a way to make tourists feel that they are welcome," said Tenorio.

At the same time, MVA Deputy Managing Director Vicky Benavente said the Saipanda mascot, which will be dispatched in the field to welcome arriving visitors and thank outbound tourists, would also help carve a new image for the local travel sector.

Aside from the program, which aims to make tourists feel welcome, the CNMI has also waived the long-scheduled increase in airport and harbor fees, with the CPA extending the airline incentive program to entice carriers to continue servicing Saipan.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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