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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 2) - The
average hotel occupancy rate grew by 14 percent and the average room rate
increased by 7 percent during the first quarter of the year, Variety learned.

The Department of Commerce released on Friday the latest CNMI
Quarterly Economic Indicators report, showing that the average hotel occupancy
in the first quarter of 2003 reached 75 percent, compared to 66 percent during
the same period in 2002.

The 75 percent occupancy also surpassed the levels reached
during the previous quarters, which ranged from 55 percent to 68 percent.

James Santos, an economist with the department’s Division of
Economic Development, said the devastation caused by Supertyphoon Pongsona on
Guam brought more tourists to the CNMI, resulting in higher hotel occupancy

"Aside from that, the January and February period was a
high arrival season for the Japanese market because it was still very cold in
Japan during those months," Santos said in an interview.

The average room rate reached $89 between January and March this
year, compared to $83 in the first quarter of 2002.

The period also marked the highest average hotel room rate
compared to the levels of the previous quarters, which ranged from $77 to $88.

But the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands said
the latest quarterly figures remain far behind the pre-Asian economic crisis and
pre-Sept. 11, 2001 levels.

HANMI said the increases were "not stable enough" to
indicate that the average hotel occupancy rate and hotel room rates have gone
back to normal.

June 2, 2003

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