What Will The Year 2001 Be Like? And Who Will Profit?
Spokesmen for the garment industry have indicated that they cannot sustain the U. S. minimum wage of $4.25 per hour which will likely be in affect by the year 2001. It’s no secret to anyone that the economic future of the Commonwealth lies in the tourist sector and the wide variety of ancillary service businesses that compliment and enhance the sustained growth of this industry.
Conservative projections (low and high levels) of air arrivals of visitors made by the Marianas Visitors Bureau indicate that we can expect between 885,000 to 1.0 million visitors. This means that the Commonwealth will need from 5,900 to 7,700 hotel rooms in its inventory, about double what is presently available. This would place the average daily visitor population on island on any given day somewhere between 8,400 and 11,100. Total annual visitor expenditures have been projected to approximate between $1.1 billion and $1.9 billion annually. We need more attractions: a Chamorro sound and light show featuring island dances within an island cultural center, an aquarium, a health spa, hot air sightseeing balloons (tethered, of course), a scenic miniature railway such as a replica of the old sugar train, an aerial gondola cable lift to Mt. Tapotchau with a mountain top restaurant, an underwater marine observatory and a Northern Island full service dive and sport fishing facility.
These things exist elsewhere and there is no reason that they would not be profitable in the Commonwealth. To my knowledge the local garment industry does not now, or care to ever, manufacture attire for the local market, all of their production is exported. A local firm could produce an assortment of beachware, swimming attire, beach towels and bags, island shirts and dresses in a Hafa Adai style similar to the Aloha shirts and the famous Hawaiian Muu Muu, all in sizes to fit our tourists and the manufacture and sale of replicas of gold and silver coins from the wrecks of Spanish Galleons in Mariana’s waters. Our young people should own and operate these businesses, and they can with the proper education and on the job training.
They need, and deserve, the best educational opportunities available to prepare them for the world of business. Of course, the hotel rooms will have to be on line to accommodate the level of visitor entries projected. A number of factors will influence such future investment, such as the increasing minimum wage, the advent of labor unions, our competitive position around the Pacific and many other issues, all which are explored in this series of essays.