MARIANAS PREDICT SPIKE IN JAPANESE VISITORS

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Market study indicates solid share of travel season

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 30, 2008) – Saipan and Guam will receive 47,000 Japanese visitors during the 12-day yearend season beginning Dec. 23, according to a top travel management agency based in Japan.

The projection for the Marianas represents 8.1 percent of the 580,000 Japanese expected to take trips with at least one night away from home between Dec. 23, 2008, and Jan. 3, 2009.

The forecast by JTB Corp. is the same as the number of Japanese who traveled to the Marianas during the same period last year.

JTB Corp. did not provide separate figures for Saipan and Guam.

The survey was conducted in 200 locations throughout Japan from Nov. 5 through Nov. 17, 2008. Some 1,200 people were interviewed individually regarding their travel plans during the New Year season.

According to JTB's news release, destinations such as Korea, Taiwan and Europe get help from the rising value of the yen against the currencies in those places. Year-end departures for Europe are also popular because of the timing of the holidays. Travelers can enjoy a nine-day holiday sequence by leaving on Dec. 27 and taking Dec. 29 and 30 off.

"One influence of the financial crisis stemming from the U.S. sub-prime loan problem has been to reduce year-end bonuses for the first time in six years," JTB said. "While this is exerting unusually strong negative financial and psychological influences on year-end/New Year travel, a nine-day holiday sequence has undeniable attractions for those who find it difficult to take so much time off at any other season."

JTB said travel to close destinations such as Korea, Taiwan and the Marianas will peak from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Most travelers bound for Europe will leave Japan from Dec. 26 through Dec. 28. For medium-distance destinations such as Hawaii and Asian beach resorts, the peak will be from Dec. 26 through Dec. 29.

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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