5 Jan 2009

Concern visa federalisation will see drop in tourists to CNMI

10:37 am on 5 January 2009

The government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says federalisation of its immigration system will deprive it of much needed revenue.

Federalisation is expected to see the US government disallow a visa waiver programme for Russian and Chinese tourists to the CNMI on security reasons.

However the commonwealth government is hoping burgeoning tourism markets like the Russian one continue to grow after announcing a 5.5-percent budget cut against all agencies as it faces dwindling revenues.

But the spokesman for the Governor, Charles Reyes says the federalisation due to take effect mid to late 2009 will hurt the CNMI economy.

"Right now we have a visa waiver programme. It's very convenient for Russian and Chinese tourists to come and a visit our islands. On the other hand if we transition... well, we will transition into a federalised immigration system. we expect that the immigration system under homeland security would be far more restrictive and they've given us every indication that they'd be willing to restrict our access to the critical Russian and Chinese tourist markets."