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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (October 29, 2001 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---The struggling Northern Marianas tourism industry is considering a revival of the old practice of welcoming tourists at Saipan International Airport with serenades and flowers.

Mustafa S. Issa, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Saipan and vice-president of the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, said industry leaders would join forces to create a warm and hospitable atmosphere.

Tourism is one of the islands' main industries. But the Northern Marianas has lost thousands of visitors since the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11.

Issa said: "We want to project a happy image. For example, we have thought about coming with musicians or ladies who represent the CNMI and everybody around will get a flower and then the musicians will serenade them."

Issa said they were also planning to launch campaigns that promote friendship and camaraderie between the Northern Marianas residents and the tourists.

"Wave campaign or kiss campaign or whatever campaign that will project a positive image toward the arrival of tourists. We want tourists to come in and when they land, we don't want them to see people so miserable and sad," he said.

In related news, the Office of the Governor has announced that the Marianas Visitors Authority is leading an islands-wide initiative to improve visitor hospitality in the community.

It is launching the "Hafa-Adai Hospitality Program/Wave - Welcome All Visitors Enthusiastically" campaign in which participants will be provided free training on visitor hospitality.

"More than ever, we need to improve the quality of service and ensure our visitors are treated royally from the moment they step off the plane until they leave," Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Perry Tenorio said.

John Salas, of the University of Guam's Tourism Department, and instructors Norman Aguilar and Chris Bajedo will conduct the seminar dubbed as "Developing a Sense of Place," Tenorio said.

He added: "As an inbound destination, we want to lay claim that we are the friendliest and most welcoming place on earth."

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