CNMI tourism sees only 46% recovery since the pandemic
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Saipan-- Arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota grew 136 percent to 19,483 visitors in September 2023, compared to 8,256 visitors received in September 2022, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.
Total visitor arrivals to the CNMI in fiscal 2023 were 194,661, a 180 percent increase compared to 69,647 arrivals in FY 2022.
Overall, visitor arrivals to the Marianas recovered 46 percent in FY 2023 compared to FY 2019 before the pandemic.
In fiscal 2023, visitors from South Korea doubled - increasing 201 percent compared to FY 2022 to 159,315 visitors; South Korea also comprised 82 percent of all arrivals to the CNMI.
In 2023, visitors from Japan increased 901 percent compared to 2022 to 7,360 visitors, making up 4 percent of the total arrivals.
Arrivals from China increased to 4,309 visitors compared to 191 visitors in 2022.
For the final month of fiscal 2023, visitor arrivals from South Korea reached 16,444 compared to 6,502 in September last year. Jeju Air, T’Way and Asiana Airline operate a total of 29 regular flights each week to Saipan.
During the Chuseok holiday period in late September Jeju Air operated 10 additional flights to Saipan in cooperation with major travel agencies, and Asiana Airlines upgraded its equipment to A330 aircraft with larger seat capacity for six flights in response to high demand.
With the end of summer and the off-season approaching, four weekly seasonal flights from Busan by Jeju Air will end on Oct. 29 as scheduled, and Asiana Airlines will suspend its four weekly flights from Seoul through Dec. 19.
The Marianas received 502 visitors from Japan in September 2023 compared to 202 visitors in September 2022. In addition to other marketing campaigns, the MVA’s newly launched “Marianacation Tabitoku” – or Travel Deal – promotion aims to entice visitors with special offers from United Airlines, local hotels, and MVA member businesses.
The MVA continues to face the obstacles of a strong U.S. dollar, weak yen, and Japanese hesitancy to travel overseas due to fears of Covid-19, especially as a large percentage of Japanese children are not vaccinated.
China arrivals in September 2023 were at 854 compared to 38 arrivals in September 2022.
Prior to the pandemic, China was one of the top source markets for the CNMI. Most visitors from China are independent travelers arriving via Seoul and Tokyo.
The China National Tourism Administration reinstated the CNMI on its approved destination status list in August, allowing package tours and charter flights to the destination once again.
The Commonwealth Ports Authority is also requesting the U.S. Department of Transportation to approve a separate number of flights allowed to the Marianas, as before the pandemic and separate from the total quota authorized flights to the U.S.
In September the CNMI also received 718 visitors from Guam, 573 visitors from the United States, and a combined 392 visitors from all other markets.