By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan - Arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota grew 752 percent to 1,107 visitors in September 2021, compared to 130 visitors received during the same month last year, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.
South Korea, the Northern Marianas' largest source market prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded 801 visitors in September compared to zero visitors last September.
South Korea is the first country that the CNMI has partnered with through the travel tourism resumption investment plans.
MVA said it is exploring the feasibility of arranging similar travel bubble agreements with Japan, Hong Kong/Taiwan, Australia and neighboring parts of Micronesia.
In July 2021, the CNMI garnered South Korea’s first travel bubble and implemented a tourism resumption investment plan to reboot the market, according to MVA.
Since July the CNMI has received 961 visitors from Korea compared to 14 visitors over the same period in 2020. Arrivals from South Korea are expected to continue to grow rapidly through the end of the year.
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Meanwhile, 164 visitors arrived from the U.S. mainland, marking a 179 percent increase compared to September 2020, and 108 visitors arrived from the neighboring island of Guam, a 13 percent increase for the month.
A combined 34 additional visitors from all other destinations visited in September.
The Marianas has remained relatively unscathed during the pandemic due to strict Covid-19 safety protocols, including stringent testing and quarantine at all borders, a high vaccination rate of 83 percent of the eligible population, and community cooperation with mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and social distancing.
Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air and T’Way provide direct flights to Saipan International Airport from Seoul- Incheon. UnitedAirlines flies daily from Guam.