Economic Development, Tourism, Healthcare, Water Resources Lead Final Day Discussions for Micronesian Chiefs

Morning agenda includes discussions on Bio-security, underground dams, collective Micronesia tourism campaign initiatives
March 15, 2012
Regional economic development and tourism kicked off the final day of the 17th Micronesian Chief Executives’ Summit.  A series of presentations focused on building a strong Micronesian economy through international investments and tourism, along with presentations about the preservation of natural resources are among this morning’s topics for the chief executives’ agenda.
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, chairman of the 17th MCES, is optimistic about the collaboration taking place during the summit.  “This summit did more than just bring us together to discuss issues, it’s really helped us establish personal ties with one another,” Governor Calvo said.  “We all agree on the need to move forward with definite solutions — real plans of action to bring more opportunities to the region and our people.”
Yesterday’s summit agenda ended with an executive session where leaders were able to work with U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta in a teleconference with Hawai’i Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz.
“We we’re able to have a candid discussion about the issues facing our communities.  We talked about the need to address some of the issues concerning compact impact funds and the real effects of the migrant population on the local community,” Governor Calvo said. “We got to put some good ideas on the table to help solve some of these problems.  It’s really important to voice these concerns and I hope to see some action in light of these discussions.”
A brief synopsis of this morning’s presentations follows:
MCES PRESENTATION:  “Regional Economic Development”
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s senior advisor for social and economic development, Henry Taitano, spoke to the region’s leaders this morning about Guam’s efforts economic development agenda and the need to “put Guam on the map.”
Taitano spoke of building regional investment partnerships to further strengthen Micronesia’s place in the global economy as America in Asia.
“I, too, believe that challenges present opportunities for us,” Taitano said.
MCES PRESENTATION:  “Regional Tourism”
With a focus on tourism as one of the fastest growing industry in the world, Guam Visitors Bureau Deputy General Manager Nathan Denight, along with Pacific Asia Travel Association Vice Chairwoman Jae Medina, updated the chief executives on the various initiatives taking flight in the tourism industry, including a collective Micronesian tourism campaign.
“Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world. To solve problems such as climate change & corporate preservation we need to work collaboratively to promote our unique culture and educate the world on why our region is a premier destination,” Denight said.
Tourism officials from Guam will be attending the upcoming Moscow International Trade and Travel Exhibition to promote Guam in light of the recent approval of the Russia Visa Waiver Program.
“Experience the Warmth,” is a branding and awareness campaign initiative led a consolidated organization of Micronesian tourism organizations.  The Pacific Asia Travel Association is currently engaged in an effort to market all of Micronesia a as worldwide travel destination with a “one look, one feel, one message” campaign to increase tourism numbers by giving “A fulfilling experience of nature and culture that is uniquely found in Micronesia, and is incomparable to any visitor destinations around the world,” according to the presentation.
In addition, presenters updated the chief executives on the potential benefits of Micronesia’s participation in the cruise line industry.  “The cruise industry is a very viable niche to go after,” Medina said.
MCES PRESENTATION:  “Regional Healthcare Integration”
Implementation and Integration of Regional Health Care was the third topic of discussion at the 17th Micronesian Chief Executives’ Summit. Margaret A. Bengzon, President and CEO of Guam Healthcare Development, Inc., Guam Regional Medical City told MCES participants that the health care market in Guam has been growing throughout the years, translating to a rise for various opportunities for credentialed medical personnel on Guam, as well as the establishment of a health conscious community.
“The pursuit of profit alone, without looking at the bigger picture, is like a human without a soul. As leaders, we need to not solely seek for profitable gain but also for the advance of economic objectives and the health and welfare of our people,” Bengzon said.
Bengzon spoke about the rapidly increasing concern for the number of cancer patients and diabetics on Guam and in the region.  The population in Guam and neighboring Pacific Islands is growing, along with a growing tourism sector.  This presents additional demand for healthcare.
GRMC will be operated by PSI/TMC, a Joint Commission accredited organization with an established track record in healthcare quality, safety and innovation. Phase one will consist of augmenting bed capacity and deliver world-class healthcare to patients regionally. Construction of the project will employ 290 employees 75% from Guam and 15% from the other regions. At full operation, GRMC will employ 58 hospital and 396 allied medical and support staff. In addition, GRMC will credential some 250 medical staff across all clinical services.
MCES PRESENTATION:  “Invasive Species and Pacific Islands
Lori Williams, Executive Director of the National Invasive Special Council from Washington, D.C. spoke of the level of commitment, at the federal and local level, to protecting the islands of Micronesia from invasive species.
University of Guam Project Director for the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan Phase II Team James Stanford, updated the chief executives on their ongoing efforts to prevent the further invasive species from damaging the islands.
Previous MCES saw the establishment of the Regional Invasive Species Council which created the framework for a regional vision to combat the threat of invasive species.  Through federal support and funding scientific studies and analyses have documented critical information that has developed, and will help to implement, the Micronesia Biosecurity Plan.
“We’re expecting a roadmap that will lead to increased protection for the Micronesia region,” Stanford said.  “The Micronesian Biosecurity Plan is an unprecedented, proactive collaborative effort to protect the region from unwanted, harmful pest species.”
MCES PRESENTATION:  “Underground Dams”
Arthur Yoshinaga engaged chief executives in the development of subsurface dam technologies to address fresh water solutions for Pacific island nations.  He spoke of the 13 underground dams built in Okinawa that has helped to sustain the freshwater needs of the people
“This will retain industry, businesses and the population,” Yoshinaga said.  “One of the big issues right now is ‘ocean intrusion’ — our aquifers are getting salty.”  He spoke of rising sea levels flooding lying farmlands on the islands, which cause significant problems, especially for the agricultural industries.
Yoshinaga explained also that the over pumping of wells and drilling too deep for new wells causes near irreversible damage to wells.  He says that underground dams are safe and help preserve the land above the dam.
“We need every piece of our land,” Yoshinaga said.  “The underground dam basically, leaves the land above preserved, it’s ‘uninvasive’.”
The underground dam creates a permanent source of freshwater and Yoshinaga also explained that the process and the structure is not mechanical and has the potential to last for hundreds of years.
“We can help ourselves and even protect our neighboring islands,” Yoshinaga said of the underground dams.   “It supports tourism, businesses and agriculture.”
For copies of these presentations or for more information, please contact Natalie Quinata at 488-6013.

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