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By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 15) – The impact of Japan Airlines' pullout from the CNMI last month easily showed on the monthly tally of visitors, with Japanese arrivals dropping 21 percent in October compared with the same month in 2004, statistics from the Marianas Visitors Authority showed.

The pullout, the agency said, contributed to a 23-percent decline in airline seats from the Japan market.

Japan Airlines, which provided direct flights to the CNMI for 28 years out of Tokyo and Osaka, terminated its flights last October 4. A few special direct flights, however, were held throughout the month of October.

Marianas Visitors Authority statistics showed there were 22,491 Japanese tourists who came to the CNMI last month. In October 2004, there were 28,586 Japanese visitors.

In fiscal year 2005, the CNMI received a low of 27,697 [May 2005] to a high of 36,642 [September 2005] tourists from Japan.

It is predicted that Japanese tourist arrivals would continue to decline in the coming months as a result of Japan Airlines’ pullout.

Overall, tourist arrivals in the CNMI declined by 11.55 percent in October this year than last year. Marianas Visitors Authority recorded 35,418 tourists in October this year. In October 2004, the number was 40,042.

Last month's statistics showed a strong performance of the Korea market, with a 70-percent increase in arrivals compared with October 2004. Korea generated 5,369 visitors during the month, which represents 2,213 more visitors than in October 2004.

Marianas Visitors Authority attributed the positive growth to the following factors:

"It is encouraging to see the positive growth from our second largest market, Korea," said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Vicky Benavente. "We are looking at expanding this market, as well as other markets such as China and Russia to fill the void from our Japan market."

Meantime, statistics also showed Guam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong as top market performers for October.

Guam posted a 24-percent increase as compared with October 2004. Taiwan and Hong Kong brought in a smaller number of arrivals; however, these markets recorded increases of 1,262 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

There were 1,912 visitors from Guam last month, 463 from Taiwan, and 187 from Hong Kong.

China registered a decline of 3-percent compared with the same month in the previous year.

For the first week of October, the market was strong in arrivals due to the celebration of the Chinese Golden Week, which brought in two extra flights. But this trend did not continue throughout the month, Marianas Visitors Authority said.

In October 2004, the CNMI had 25 direct flights from China, compared with the 20 flights in October 2005.

Meantime, arrivals from the United States posted a decline of 64 percent compared with the same month last year. The October 2004 figure of 2,089 was attributed to the arrival of one military ship, which brought in 54 percent of the total arrivals from the U.S.

Arrivals from the Philippines totaled 276 or a 42 percent decline from October 2004, with 477.

November 15, 2005

Saipan Tribune

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