13 Oct 2008

Northern Marianas still waiting for DEA to explain searches of Chinese tourists

8:09 pm on 13 October 2008

The Governor of the Northern Marianas has sought to calm local companies that bring Chinese tourists into the territory after passengers coming into the country were subjected to body searches .

The majority of passengers on board the Shanghai Airlines flight were subject to intensive searches by staff from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

The CNMI's Finance Secretary, Eloy Inos, says the CNMI government has temporarily withdrawn local law enforcement officers from a joint task force with the DEA.

He says the pullout of six police officers and one customs officer from the anti-drug task force will last until the local government gets a full explanation from the DEA.

Tour agents are concerned about the negative publicity the Commonwealth is receiving in China because of the episode.

They also fear that the incident may put at risk the CNMI's "approved destination status," which allows the Commonwealth to openly market itself as a tourist destination for Chinese travellers.