By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan--The CNMI is seeking to tap the military market to fill the gap in tourism left by the Asian tourists as a result of the pandemic-triggered suspension of world travel.
The Marianas Visitors Authority pitched the CNMI islands to service members and their families during the Go Local Fair Show organized by Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Anderson Air Force Base on May 26.
“Like the rest of the world, the military on Guam is eager to travel again,” said Priscilla M. Iakopo, MVA managing director. “We shared with them unique attractions of each island and major festivals, like this month’s Taste of The Marianas International Food Festival& Beer Garden. With Covid restrictions easing, the military market is again an important niche market for The Marianas.”
The MVA was joined by Aqua Resort Club Saipan at the travel fair, which included 24 other vendors from Guam. Giveaways and collaterals from Kensington Hotel Saipan, Coral Ocean Resort, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, Marianas Trekking, PDI, Sasamo Tour, and Fishing Tackle were also distributed.
The CNMI's tourism is showing signs of recovery since the travel restrictions were eased.
Arrivals to Saipan, Tinian and Rota grew 2027 percent to 5,593 visitors in April, compared to 263 visitors received during the same period last year, MVA reported.
The figure is an overall decrease of 86% from 39,663 visitors received in April 2020, marking another month of small gain in a continued challenging road ahead for the recovery of The Marianas tourism economy.
A majority of visitors in April arrived from South Korea, The Marianas’ largest source market prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with 4,251 visitors arriving. There were no visitors at all from South Korea during the first quarter of last year.
The Marianas now has 12 flights operated by five airlines arriving weekly from Seoul and Busan.
As non-vaccinated children under the age of 12 are exempted from returning to quarantine in Korea, beginning June 1 this change will allow families to more conveniently travel to The Marianas on summer vacation and holidays.
The Marianas received 29 visitors from Japan in April, compared to only two visitors in April 2021. With the easing of quarantine requirements and other pandemic-related restrictions for returning residents to Japan, the MVA is also working with the major travel industry partners in Japan to develop a program to reboot the market with direct flights this summer.
The program focuses on a media and travel agent fam group, a travel agent incentive program, press conferences and media interviews, sales calls, and consumer promotions designed to promote the Marianas as a destination of choice.
The Marianas also received 745 visitors from Guam, 420 visitors from U.S. and a combined 109 additional visitors from all other destinations in April.