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By Mark Rabago Staff Reporter

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (May 21, 2001 – Saipan Tribune)---Saipan and Rota respectively saw a seven percent and four percent decrease in visitor arrivals last month compared to the same period last year.

A report from the Marianas Visitors Authority showed that tourists coming to Saipan regressed from 40,067 in April 2000 to only 37,367 in April 2001. In the meantime, visitor arrivals to Rota fell from 795 to 761 during the same period.

As it was for the whole of the Commonwealth, visitor arrivals to Saipan dropped even with the positive growth in Japanese visitor arrivals.

Tourists flying in from Japan saw a two-percent increase from 27,515 in April last year to 28,118 last month. Rota recorded a nine percent rise in visitor arrivals from 330 to 360 for the period.

The dip in visitor arrivals for both islands is blamed on the decline of the CNMI's second and third largest markets, Korea and the U.S.

The MVA report showed that arrivals of Korean tourists to Saipan and Rota fell by 19 percent and 38 percent respectively. In April 2001, a total of just 4,793 Koreans came to Saipan and five to Rota, compared to 5,904 and eight in the same period a year ago.

U.S. visitor arrivals, on the other hand, recorded a 75 percent decline in Saipan and a 14 percent drop in Rota. Last month saw 558 U.S. citizens visit Saipan and 370 go to Rota, compared to 2,218 and 429 a year ago.

The decrease in Korean visitor arrivals to the two islands can be traced once again to the peninsula's weakened economy and the won's sliding value against the U.S. dollar.

U.S. arrivals fell because of fewer port calls by U.S. warships to Saipan. U.S. servicemen usually proceed from Saipan to Rota on sightseeing trips.

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

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