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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (September 15, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)--- Japanese tour operators on the island yesterday urged airlines to provide more flights to the island-municipality of Rota to be able to successfully market the place in Japan.

Kiyoshi Aikawa, President of Japan-Saipan Travel Association, said the lack of an adequate number of flights from Saipan to Rota would hamper any promotional effort of the tour operators to sell the island despite its potential as an eco tourism destination.

Currently, Pacific Island Aviation and Marianas Air provide Rota-Saipan service. Continental Micronesia has stopped offering Guam-Rota direct flights since it is difficult for bigger aircraft to land safely on the island when the runway is wet.

Aikawa, also a board member of the Marianas Visitors Authority, visited various tourism sites on Rota island to determine which need immediate repair.

Rota Mayor Benjamin Manglona has repeatedly asked the Federal Aviation Administration to provide funding for the repair of Rota runway but renovation does not guarantee Continental Micronesia's return to the island.

The Japanese travel association stressed the importance of Continental Micronesia's return to Rota since this will provide easy access for Japanese tourists. Unfortunately, the worsening financial crisis in Asia has forced the airline to reduce more flights.

Local officials as well as hotel and resort owners on Rota have submitted a list of activities that will be held on the island to be included in the Visit the Marianas '99 Campaign.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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