Despite the rebounding tourism industry, the lack of hotel rooms is still an issue that not only turns off potential tourists but hurts the markets as well, according to AVIAREPS Marketing Garden founder and chair Michael Merner.
The lack of hotel room in the CNMI was the highlight of Merner’s presentation at the Marianas Visitors Authority general membership meeting yesterday at the Saipan World Resort in Susupe.
Out of five markets represented, the lack of hotel rooms particularly affect Korea, China, Japan, and Russia, while Taiwan, one of the newest markets for the CNMI, lacks flights to and from Saipan.
MVA board member Jerry Tan agrees that the lack of hotel rooms is one of the biggest challenge the islands’ tourism industry is facing. “One thing that Michael talked about consistently in his presentation is the lack of hotel rooms throughout the five market presentations.”
He said the Hotel Association of the Northern Marianas Islands is going to play an important role in addressing this deficiency.
Tan said he met with Avia Charters officials a few months ago and the meeting centered on how to grow the Russian market.
“If the Russian market is not going to get continued support from the hotel association, we will lose the charter flights very quickly. So as much as we love the Russian market, that market will disappear if the hotel rooms are not available to the market,” said Tan.
He noted that “it is a very serious problem” not just for the Russian market, but to all the markets as well.
Tan also told MVA managing director Perry Tenorio that they need to work more closely with the HANMI on this issue.
Tenorio said if they don’t add more hotel rooms, the average room rates in the CNMI will stay the same.
Based on HANMI’s Hotel Room Summary, the average room rate was $123.15 from October 2013 to May 2014. The “occupancy annualized” for October to September showed that the average room rate for fiscal year 2014 is $121.68.
According to Tenorio, with the increasing number of arrivals, “the hotels are saturated, so it’s not the hotel shortage, it’s just that were filling up our capacity now.”
According to him, as a U.S territory “we have no control of the distribution of the hotel rooms or hoteliers.”
“We would like to see possibly an equal distribution to the hotel rooms but that’s entirely up to the [hotels],” Tenorio said.
He said they only started to address the issue of the lack of hotel rooms when Avia Charters came in and shared that they needed more hotel rooms.
“We were able to consult with Gov. Eloy S. Inos and meet with HANMI and share with them the possible impact with the allotment increase and we’re happy that HANMI responded with the allotment increase for Avia Charters,” Tenorio said.