CNMI FACING LOSS OF LUCRATIVE RUSSIAN VISITORS

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Russian tourists stay longer, spend more

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 17, 2009) – The Marianas Visitors Authority will be hard-pressed to replace tourists from Russia once the CNMI's control of immigration is federalized by June 1, 2009.

In a presentation to the Legislature last week, the Commonwealth's tourism agency disclosed that a single Russian tourist is equal to an average of 3.7 visitors from other markets.

MVA said this is because Russian visitors typically spend more and stay much longer than packaged tourists from the other markets.

Extrapolating on these numbers, MVA said the estimated Fiscal Year 2009 arrivals of 9,267 Russian tourists is the economic equivalent of about 34,288 package tourists from Japan, Korea and China.

Due to the expected decline in air services from Korea, Japan, and the exclusion of Russia and China markets from the U.S. visa waiver program, MVA's estimates a drop of 25,956 in visitor arrivals this fiscal year, resulting in a decline of $2.8 million in hotel revenue and a drop of $8.2 million in total financial impact on the island.

MVA officials also estimated that arrivals in FY 2009 will total 330,068 from all markets. These include Japan with 203,663, Korea with 85,870; China with 31,267; and Russia with 9,267.

The total arrivals will bring hotel revenue up to $57 million as well as $229 million for island expenditure, which revs up the total fiscal impact to $939 million.

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

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