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By Agnes E. Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 16) – Japan’s outbound
travel market may fully recover this fall, according to the Marianas Visitors

MVA was quoting a study by the Japan Tourism Marketing Co.,
which also predicted that business travel from Japan would recover more quickly
than the leisure market.

"(This) is due to the fact that international companies see
business travel as being vital to restoring their business after the impact of
the SARS," MVA said.

The total number of Japanese travelers making trips outside
their country decreased by an average of 50 percent from April to June, compared
to the same period last year.

But MVA noted that while outbound traffic from Japan showed
relative improvement since July, a number of leisure travelers from Japan still
prefer to defer trips due to the fear and uncertainty caused by the SARS
outbreak in Asia and North America.

Those who do venture outside Japan are heading to destinations
considered "safe" from the impact of SARS, including Oceania, the
South Pacific, Hawaii and Europe, MVA said.

This was the main reason that the Northern Marianas saw a
"mere" 5 percent drop in tourist arrivals the first seven months of
2003, MVA said.

MVA also cited a poll conducted by Travel Journal on the booking
activities of major brand package tours by major travel wholesalers.

According to the survey, the number of bookings for travel
through November shows mixed results, suggesting that consumers are taking a
wait-and-see attitude on their travel plans.

"Reservations for September are strong for destinations
such as Hawaii, Oceania, Guam and Saipan as consumers are taking advantage of
off-peak deals for the late summer," MVA said.

It added, "Although booking levels are showing an
improvement compared to the levels seen over the past few months, it appears
that consumers are remaining cautious in the timing of their bookings so as to
avoid last-minute cancellation charges. At the same time, however, wholesalers
are offering early-bird deals for bookings made in advance."

September 16, 2003

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