Hotel executives are new MVA board members

Three executives from three of the biggest hotels on Saipan were elected as new directors of the Marianas Visitors Authority board in yesterday’s election held during the tourism group’s general membership meeting at the Royal Taga Hall of the Saipan World Resort in Susupe.

Nick Nishikawa and Gloria Cavanagh, the general managers of Hyatt Regency Saipan and the Mariana Resort & Spa, respectively, and Vicky Benavente were voted by their peers, while Jerry Tan was reelected to another four-year term.

Nishikawa and Tan were elected in absentia as they were attending to prior commitments. A total of 109 members cast their votes, choosing from 14 candidates that were nominated to fill in the four director posts.

Cavanagh brings with her 23 years of experience in the tourism industry and has been working on Saipan since 2011. She said that being elected to the MVA board is a great honor and she accepts the responsibility entrusted to her by her peers.

“I will make sure I will not disappoint those who entrusted to me the responsibility of serving on the MVA board,” said Cavanagh, who is in her final year as Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands president.

She said having a HANMI member serving on the MVA board is something that HANMI has been lobbying for quite sometime. “HANMI fought very hard and lobbied to get a position from the board. Now, we have three from the hotels.”

Cavanagh added the she’s looking forward to do her share in promoting the CNMI especially with a lot of developments happening. “Arrivals are up and there are a lot of unique sites that we can promote to various markets. We can compete with other tourist destinations around us.”

Benavente is making her return to MVA after serving as its managing director more than 10 years ago. She is also the Marianas Tourism Education Council chair and is currently working as an executive administrative assistant to Pacific Islands Club general manager Hiro Sugie.

“I’m here to help guide the MVA especially in its international marketing efforts. I bring with me 30 years of experience working in the tourism industry,” said Benavente, who added that she wanted to emphasize in promoting cultural and environmental awareness.

“Seeing the indigenous culture, watching the native dances, and experiencing what our islands has to offer is what we want our tourists to see. This is part of our destination enhancement.”

“We should also teach our children to embrace other cultures. We are friendly people and we are known for our island hospitality,” Benavente said.

Michael Demapan, Kazusuke Fukuju, Wendi Herring, Paula Monk, Chris Nelson, James Nelson, Elitza Stoilova, Edwin Sze, Dennis Yoshimoto, and Alex Youn were the other nominees.

This article was originally authored by Jon Perez of the Saipan Tribune and published on June 24th, 2016. All rights, recognition and acknowledgment belong to the author and the Saipan Tribune.