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Hyatt Saipan to shut down permanently

By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Saipan— Hyatt Regency Saipan announced its permanent closure on June 30, ending its 43 years of operation on Saipan “due to the global shifts and continued challenges” that burden local tourism.


“Despite our best efforts and after months of careful consideration and exploring many avenues, the harsh realities of the current landscape have forced us to make the difficult decision to close this special place,” said Hitoshi Nakauchi, president of Saipan Portopia Corp., which owns Hyatt Regency Saipan.

The announcement of Hyatt's closure came barely a few months after Saipan Portopia negotiated a new 40-year public land lease.

“As we navigate this challenging transition, our thoughts are with all those affected by this and we are committed to ensure that they are supported,” Nakauchi said.

The management said it now prioritizes care for employees and guests and is working closely with Saipan Portopia Corp. to ensure a smooth transition. Saipan Portopia and Hyatt are facilitating some employees’ transfer to other Hyatt locations.


“Both companies are working closely together to handle all relevant administrative obligations in a transparent and empathetic way to support all associates, guests, members, business partners and the local community,” the company said.


Hyatt Regency Saipan joined Hyatt’s global portfolio in 1980 and evolved into a legacy address over the past 43 years. Saipan Portopia is one of the CNMI’s longest tenured Japanese investors.


“We extend our deepest gratitude to our employees, guests, partners and the broader Saipan society who have been a part of our journey over the last four decades,” said Simon Graf, general manager of Hyatt Regency Saipan.


“The support and patronage that we have received from this special community have been the bedrock of our success. We are immensely grateful to have had the privilege serving you and being a part of your everyday lives, to be the place where many have created memories together and celebrated life’s milestones,” he added.


The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands said Hyatt’s permanent closure “is a tremendous loss” to the CNMI and its economy, underscoring the need for the local and federal governments to resolve policy and regulatory issues that impede the industry.


“The Hyatt Regency has been Saipan’s longest standing international hotel brand and is beloved by tourists and locals,” HANMI said in a press statement,


HANMI said the closure announcement is “both heartbreaking and unsettling” and “extremely worrisome as it signifies the health of our tourism industry with the loss of confidence by a longstanding Japanese investor of over four decades.”


To stay in operation, hotels typically require around 70 percent to 80 percent hotel occupancy.

HANMI listed key actions that it said need urgent attention to keep the hotels operating, preserve local jobs and bolster the local economy.


HANMI reiterated its call for the Palacios administration to support the immediate reinstatement of Annex VI, under the U.S. China Air Transport 

Agreement of July 9, 2007, which would exempt the CNMI from the limitations set on air traffic from China.


“Advocating for the approval of this application is the initial step toward diversifying tourist market sources, which is essential for resilience in the

 face of economic fluctuations,” HANMI said.


The association also recommended that the Marianas Visitors Authority be given more flexibility in promoting the destination to other nations, including China to draw a higher volume of visitor arrivals.


“It is crucial to note the substantial decline in average hotel occupancies observed by HANMI, plummeting from 90.89 percent in 2017 to a mere 37.83 percent in 2023,” HANMI said.


“This significant downturn in visitor arrivals and hotel occupancy rates can

 be directly attributed to the absence of the China market, which was the 

Marianas’ second largest tourism market pre-pandemic, constituting 35 percent and 39 percent of total visitor arrivals in 2017 and 2018, respectively.”


The hotel owners are also requesting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to finalize the implementation of the CNMI Economic Vitality & Security Travel Authorization Program for Chinese visitors.

Lastly, HANMI is seeking the rollback of landing fees and terminal rental fees to encourage airlines to add more flights.

“Much like the hotels, the airport requires revenue to cover its operational costs and maintain all safety requirements to remain an FAA-certified airport," HANMI said.

"Unfortunately, the increase in airline fees has discouraged some of our existing airlines from adding flights and may cause carriers to reduce service in the

off-season when airfares are the lowest and cost recovery cannot be achieved,” the association said.

The hotel sector maintained that the return of the China market and its flights to pre-pandemic levels will provide the desperately needed flight activity, passenger volume and airport revenue that will allow for the Commonwealth Port Authority to roll back the fee structure to pre-pandemic levels.


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