Weak Russian Economy To Impact CNMI

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Nearly 11,000 tourists visited Marianas last year

By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 4, 2015) – With a volatile Russian ruble and weakening Russian economy, the Northern Marianas may see fewer Russian tourists coming to the islands in 2015.

Facing sanctions from the West over its actions in Ukraine, the Russian government is still stabilizing its weak ruble that plunged in value by more than 40 percent last year with inflation skyrocketing.

Given these conditions, the Northern Marianas is still keeping its hopes up that it will be able to bring in Russian tourists.

MVA managing director Perry Tenorio said, "The Russia market is going through an extremely difficult time given the instability of the Ruble, declining consumer confidence, and the bankruptcy of AVIACHARTER which had provided direct non-stop charter flights to the CNMI until recently."

Tenorio said MVA is negotiating with other carriers on the launch of direct non-stop service.

"But these are not likely to materialize until the socio-economic situation in Russia stabilizes in 2015," said Tenorio.

In 2014, the CNMI welcomed 10,778 Russian tourists to the islands.

The islands saw a drop in the total number of Russian visitors this year, from 1,156 in January, down to 968 in May, down further to 182 in September, and slightly recovering in November with 245 Russian visitors.

It wasn’t long ago when the CNMI got a big boost from Avia Charter’s offering direct charter flights from Vladivostok to Saipan.

On Oct. 26, 2012, Avia Charter made its historic direct charter flight bringing 150 Russian tourists to the CNMI from Vladivostok.

This augured well for the tourism industry as the islands began receiving fortnightly arrivals of Russian tourists.

Tourists from Russia and China can visit the Northern Marianas under the visa-waiver program.

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