CNMI Visitor Arrivals Top 500,000; Up 4.5% From Last Year

Marianas Visitors Authority
Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

October 21, 2016

Visitors arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands increased 10 percent in September 2016 compared to September 2015, bringing total arrivals in fiscal year 2016 to 501,179 visitors—a 4.5 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year.

According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 43,264 visitors in September 2016, compared to 39,249 visitors received in September 2015.

“Overall, fiscal year 2016 was another year of solid growth in tourism arrivals to the Northern Marianas, which means more revenue for both the government and the private sector,” said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “This is the first year we’ve surpassed the half-million mark since fiscal year 2005. We are fortunate that the economies of several of our source markets are strong, and the MVA continues to be strategic in our expenditures for offshore marketing and promotions and on-island destination enhancement and community events.”

Arrivals from Korea soared 57 percent to 19,804 visitors in September. Arrivals from Korea grew 10 percent in fiscal year 2016 to 200,875 visitors. With double daily flights from Seoul by Jeju Air, daily service from Seoul by Asiana Airlines, charter flights by Asiana Airlines during winter peak season, direct daily flights operated by Jin Air, and the launch of a new direct daily flight from Seoul by Eastar Jet from Oct. 24, arrivals from Korea to the NMI are projected to remain extremely strong through the end of this year. T’way Air is also expected to launch new non-stop service from Incheon to Saipan at the end of the year, driving continued rapid growth in Korean arrivals well into 2017.

Arrivals from China dipped 6 percent compared to September 2015 to 15,666 visitors with the suspension of Dynamic Airways’ charter flights from Hangzhou and Nanjing to Saipan at the end of August. New flight from Beijing to Saipan have been confirmed starting in January, and Dynamic Airways also plans to launch new charters in January-February 2017 targeting the forthcoming Chinese New Year holiday which will ensure a return to rapid growth out of the China market in the New Year. In fiscal year 2016, China was the CNMI’s largest source marketing, growing 14 percent to 206,538 visitors.

Arrivals from Japan fell 40 percent to 4,835 visitors as the NMI continued to feel the effect of Delta Air Lines cutting its second Narita to Saipan night flight a year ago, a move that dropped airlift from the Japan market to just one daily flight. With only 5,070 air seats serving the CNMI from Japan, 4,766 arrivals out of the Japan market means that Delta is seeing extremely high load factors on its single flight, and the CNMI is now a profitable destination for Delta. The MVA’s focus in Japan remains to secure the resumption of Delta’s second daily flight out of Narita, as well as the launch of new service from Nagoya and Osaka from a combination of Japan and Hong Kong-based low-cost carriers.

“The Bank of Japan reports Japanese households and companies are continuing to hold on to cash rather than spending or investing it, highlighting the ongoing challenge to revitalize the economy,” said Concepcion. “However, the MVA will continue to work closely with our tourism partners to strengthen the industry in this New Year, both in our weaker and in our new emerging markets such as Japan, Hong Kong, Russia, and the Philippines.”

Economic highlights

The Japanese government stuck to its overall economic assessment in its monthly economic report for September, which described the economy as being in moderate recovery while still showing weakness. The government gave a weaker assessment of capital expenditure for the first time in 10 months, while giving an improved view on private consumption, reflecting the fragility of the world’s third largest economy. After nine months of consecutive growth against the U.S. dollar, the Japanese yen finally leveled off, decreasing slightly to an average of 102.24 yen to the dollar in August 2016.

A new economic outlook for South Korea indicates it is likely to reach a per capita gross domestic product goal of $30,000 by 2018, two years earlier than predicted by the International Monetary Fund. The average USD/won exchange rate in September was 1,100.6 won, a slight decrease from the August rate of 1,115.70 won.

China’s potential economic growth rate in the next five years is expected to range from 6.5 percent to 6.6 percent as long as it continues to support structural reform to drive growth, according to a Renmin University research paper. The central parity rate of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, strengthened 98 basis points to 6.6646 against the U.S. dollar, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System.

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