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By Jude O. Marfil

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 28) - Northwest Airlines will receive US$315,000 from the Marianas Visitors Authority for providing daily flights to Osaka this October.

In a budget presentation Michael D. Merner, MVA Japan’s general manager, said Northwest was given the allocation of US$250,000 in airline incentives and US$65,000 for the inaugural flight.

But Merner said the amount is subject to change depending on the result of a survey they are conducting.

Of the US$1 million in supplemental funds MVA was allowed to spend, US$380,000 was allocated for airline incentives.

The remaining US$130,000 of the US$380,000 will be given to any airline, possibly Northwest, for providing nighttime flights from Narita.

Merner said some US$265,000 will go to travel agents whose sales will surpass MVA’s target.

"This was to encourage wholesalers to actively (promote the CNMI) based on new Osaka and existing Nagoya and Narita services," he said.

MVA allocated US$10,000 to US$15,000 for big travel agents, to be awarded once they sell more than 5 percent to 10 percent of the 20,500 seats from October 2005 to March 2006.

For the inaugural flight of Northwest in October, MVA earmarked US$65,000 and US$35,000 for brochure support.

However, agents allowed to avail themselves of the brochure support funding must feature only Saipan in the brochure, which should not exceed more than four pages.

"We have also allocated US$100,000 for television network tie-ups," Merner said. With JAL’s pullout, the loss of advertising dollars forces us to work harder to secure the same visibility for CNMI in Japan."

MVA Japan set aside US$45,000 for market research to establish price sensitivity of Japan travelers in response to potential increases in package prices.

The research also sought to assess current satisfaction levels of Japanese tourists visiting the CNMI as well as evaluate the current perception of the islands in Japan.

July 29, 2005

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