KOREA TRAVEL MARKET ON UPSWING IN CNMI

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But Russian tourists staying home

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Business Journal, Oct. 11, 2010) –- The Korean tourist market which slowed down last year is finally back on the upswing, according to Kieran Daly, general manager of Pacific Islands Club Saipan.

"The Korean market is stable after a dip in arrivals last year from the currency devaluation," he told the Journal.

At the same time, Daly expressed confidence in the resurgence of Japan market. "There’s no doubt that Japan market is traveling very strongly again, you only need to look at Guam and the value of the Japanese yen now versus the U.S. dollar once they travel offshore," he said.

However, he cited issues that the Northern Mariana Islands needs to resolve such as airline lift, dearth of marketing dollars spent on the destination, and confidence among agents that flights will remain consistent and reliable.

The Russian tourist market, which proved to be a staple for the Pacific Islands Club, has seen a decline this year due to the slowdown in economies all over the world. Daly said two million less Russians have traveled internationally so far this fiscal year and that would equate to a reduction in travelers going to the NMI as well.

Daly also told the Journal that whatever gains in revenues, hotels may have this period, were all countered by the recent increase in the minimum wage, fuel costs, among other factors.

"PIC [Pacific Islands Club], like all NMI hotels, is facing the challenges of competitive destination marketing, declining airline seats, and the rising cost of fuel and other operating expenses. We hope that the shutdown will be a historic first and last in the NMI," he said.

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