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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 24, 1999 – Saipan Tribune)---Buoyed by the planned daily non-stop Seoul-Saipan flights of Asiana Airlines, the Marianas Visitors Authority is planning to carry out more tourism promotional campaigns in South Korea.

Currently, MVA has only set aside $125,000 to promote the CNMI as an ideal travel destination for Koreans. When Asiana begins its daily flights, MVA wants to take advantage of the situation by pumping in more money for promotion.

Since last year, tourist arrivals from South Korea have been increasing steadily, as that country's economy improves following the Asian economic crisis that began in July 1997. The crisis had forced the Seoul government to seek a $58 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Korea used to be Saipan's second biggest tourism market after Japan.

Due to the increase in outbound travel from Korea, Asiana Airlines has begun providing direct Seoul-Saipan service six times a week, using a B-767.

Meantime, Korean Air has expressed its intention to resume service to Saipan. The airline had been providing service to Saipan for 14 years until it suspended operations following the tragic crash on Guam, where 230 people were killed.

Korean Air used to ferry an average of 12,000 passengers to the CNMI a year.

Korean Air Board Chairman Yang Ho Cho recently visited Saipan and met with Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio as well as the island's tourism officials. Tenorio has sent a letter to Korea's Ministry of Transportation and Construction supporting the application of Korean Air to resume service on the island.

The island's tourism economy has greatly suffered due to the decline in visitor arrivals spawned by the financial fallout in Asia.

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

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