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By Edith G. Alejandro

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 1, 2002 – Saipan Tribune)---The Commonwealth Ports Authority has disclosed plans to create a task force that would promote and market Tinian as a tourist destination, in anticipation of the entry of direct international flights following completion of the West Tinian Airport project.

Board Chair Roman S. Palacios said the Commonwealth Ports Authority (CPA) is urging the island’s local government to consider appointing representatives from the private sector and the ports authority to complete the Tinian tourism task force.

Palacios explained that, in preparation for the completion of the airport project in September 2002, the Tinian local government is prioritizing the need to market the island as a casino and gaming destination.

He said the office of Mayor Francisco M. Borja has been identified to head up creation of the task force. Borja will also administer the appointment of members who can effectively develop and carry out a marketing program.

Palacios said the establishment of the task force was discussed when the CPA met with the Tinian Legislative Delegation to consider the status of the runway project and other issues.

"In anticipation of the new runway being operational in September 2002, the creation of a task force to promote and market Tinian has emerged as one of the top priorities," said Palacios.

The CPA suggested to Borja that a representative from the private sector, such as the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, be considered.

The Board Chair added that the request was made in efforts to help the Tinian local government identify an effective tool to market the island to other countries as a preferred destination.

In a related development, CPA Executive Director Carlos H. Salas disclosed that security measures at the West Tinian International Airport will also be upgraded in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration policy.

Salas, in an interview, said there will be continued expansion and improvements made at West Tinian Airport even after the scheduled completion of the work now under way.

He said the CPA is currently reviewing the screening-security measures to be imposed at the airport in compliance with federal requirements.

"It was necessitated by the September 11 attacks. It has taken CPA to a different level," said Salas.

He said the CPA will be constructing an explosive detection system for Tinian airport, and he added that U.S. Transportation Security Administration screeners will be taking over security at the airport.

Salas said that Tinian airport now can accommodate two narrow-bodied aircraft for international flights and, at the same time, service domestic airlines.

The executive director also explained that the CPA has also requested the Honolulu Civil Aviation Security Field Office to assist the ports authority in preparing West Tinian Airport to handle charter flights from Asia.

All this is in compliance with the implementation of an approved airport security program and adoption of plans to comply with FAR Part 107.

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

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