- By Pacific Island Times News Staff
CNMI reaches 80% vax target; gears up for arrival of more Korean tourists
Saipan-- The CNMI has officially reached 80 percent vaccination of its eligible population aged 12 years and older on Sept. 10, concluding the government's "Road to 80" campaign, CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said.
“Our administration committed $100,000 to the Road to 80 campaign to encourage everyone in our community to get vaccinated for a chance to win prizes and incentives, and we are glad to see people coming out to get vaccinated these last few months to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Torres said.
The governor noted that the decisions throughout the course of the pandemic were not easy, but emphasized that they have always been to keep everyone in the Marianas safe from the Covid-19 disease.
"The work is not done, and we must keep our guard up to protect each other," Torres said.
While it has been reporting Covid-19 infections over the past week, the CNMI has no community transmissions. Coronavirus cases are travel-related.
Currently, there is only one active hospitalization.
On Friday, the CNMI government reported another Covid-19 case identified through travel screening and confirmed through testing on arrival on Sept. 9. The individual has been quarantined and is actively monitored.
The CNMI has reported a total of 250 positive cases since March 28, 2020.
After achieving herd immunity, the CNMI gets ready for the arrival of more visitors as it seeks to revive its tourism industry.
With last month’s decision of the Marianas Visitors Authority’s (MVA) to extend the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan (TRIP) program with Korea through December, travel agencies and airlines are seeing a gradual uptick in bookings in coming months.
The program is an investment to help jumpstart tourism, The Marianas’primary economic driver. Since the launch of the TRIP program, over 1,000 bookings have been made, including an increase in bookings to Tinian and Rota. In addition, bookings have been for seven or more nights, much longer than the average four nights prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the only destination with a travel bubble with South Korea, The Marianas has tremendous opportunity to capitalize on outbound travel demand in the country. Based on recent discussions with travel agents and airlines in Korea, we are very optimistic about the forecast of the TRIP program through December,” said MVA board chair Viola Alepuyo.
“With the additional time provided for the program, as well as a firm decision by the Covid-19 Task Force to continue the five-day quarantine for TRIP participants through December, our travel partners now have sufficient time and the necessary details to confidently develop and sell packages for the coming months to their customers," she added.
MVA managing director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo said the agency will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation and Covid-10 Task Force on all aspects of the program to help ensure community protection.
“In the long term, The Marianas will continue to benefit from this Tourism Resumption Investment Plan with stimulation of the economy through the revitalization of the tourism industry, travelers’ confidence in travel to The Marianas regained, and increased overall destination exposure," Iakopo said.
The MVA has also formed ad hoc committees to begin exploring the feasibility of extending the TRIP program to other markets, including Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, and the rest of Micronesia.
From South Korea, Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’Way provide direct flights to Saipan from Seoul- Incheon. United Airlines flies daily from Guam. Interisland travel to Rota and Tinian is provided by Star MarianasAir.