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By Liberty Dones Variety News Staff

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (July 25, 2002 – Marianas Variety)---The CNMI’s overall tourist arrivals rate in June declined by 2.35 percent compared to the same month last year, but the figures for the China and South Korea markets continue to improve, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.

MVA recorded 39,708 visitors last month. In June 2001, the CNMI had 40,663 tourists.

Last month’s figure, however, was a slight improvement over May 2002, which recorded 38,618 arrivals.

MVA said the China and Korea markets showed continued growth of 491 percent and 73 percent respectively compared to June 2001 figures.

In June this year, Japan recorded a 9 percent decline compared to June 2001.

But Japan arrivals have been improving since Oct. 2001, MVA said.

From Oct. 2001 to Dec. 2001, Japan arrivals declined by about 43 percent. The declining rate was reduced to 20 percent by Jan. 2002.

Decrease in tourist arrivals from Japan was attributed to its co-hosting with South Korea of the 2002 World Cup last month.

"Outbound travel during this period may be soft as Japanese stay at home to experience this extraordinary event," MVA said.

A report from Marketing Garden, MVA’s representative office in Japan, also said that "the most popular Asian and Pacific destinations have been struggling to attract customers."

MVA said the lack of bookings during the World Cup is expected to have significant effect on overseas travel destinations on travel reservations for July and August.

The Marketing Garden report said 1.2 million Japanese traveled abroad in April this year, a 9 percent decline compared to April 2001.

"This is the first time that the decline year-on-year has been smaller than 10 percent and there’s a general feeling in the market that it will not be long before tourism this year recovers to last year’s level," the report said.

From Jan. to April 2002, some 5 million Japanese tourists traveled overseas, which is 14.4 lower than the figure for the same period last year.

MVA said the China market led a phenomenal growth of 491 percent last month due to the biweekly charter flights brought in by China Southern Airlines.

Korea recorded a 73 percent increase compared to June 2001 as a result of the direct flights from Seoul through Korean Airlines, MVA said.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/ Marianas Variety.

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