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SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 12) – Commonwealth
Resident Representative Pete A. Tenorio said he is working with the U.S. State
Department in getting approval to open up the CNMI's tourism gates to visitors
from China.

"It's not the right time to be promoting tourists from
China because of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrone), but this is a
long-term plan," Tenorio told reporters in a media conference this week.

He noted that Gov. Juan N. Babauta has already expressed to the
State Department the CNMI's desire to be designated as a tourist destination for
Chinese visitors.

The resident representative said they are also awaiting a
response from the China Tourism Association about this proposal.

Among others, he underscored the CNMI's control of its own
immigration as an advantage for Chinese visitors. "If Chinese visitors were
to go to the U.S. mainland or Guam or Hawaii, they'd need a tourist visa. But in
our case, we don't require a visa to enter the CNMI. They just need an entry
permit or some kind of an authorization to board," said Tenorio.

The governor and Chinese Consul-General to Los Angeles Jianhua
Zhong had agreed during the latter's visit to the CNMI last month to embark on a
plan to boost tourist arrivals to the Northern Marianas by tapping into the
China market.

Babauta earlier disclosed that the consul-general is arranging
for a Chinese delegation of government officials and private sector
representatives to come to the CNMI.

The delegation will reportedly work with local players in the
tourism industry on efforts toward tourism promotion.

Tenorio further disclosed that he will be participating in the
April 23 to 25 Japan meeting with the membership of the U.S. Department of
Commerce's Japan-U.S. Tourism Initiative working Group.

"We have a meeting to follow up on the group's plan to
start promoting tourists from Japan to the U.S., including the CNMI, and from
U.S. to Japan, on a mutual basis," said Tenorio.

April 14, 2003

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