Visitors arrivals to the Marianas increased 21 percent in February 2017 compared to February 2016.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 57,320 in February 2017, compared to 47,281 visitors received in February 2016. This is the third highest February arrivals in NMI history. The record for February was set in fiscal year 1996, with 60,125 arrivals that month.
Arrivals from Korea more than doubled, catapulting 122 percent higher to 30,313 visitors, representing over half of all tourist arrivals to the Marianas for the month.
Arrivals to the Marianas are up 72 percent overall this fiscal year, driven by direct flight services via five Korean airlines: Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Eastar, and T’way.
Arrivals from China dropped 24 percent compared to February 2017 to 19,547 visitors. With the end of the Spring Festival holiday, the demand of outbound tourism market has fallen, especially for white-collar workers with annual leave. As a result, the outbound tourism price index of different regions showed a different range of decline, compared with the index of 2017 Spring Festival.
Seasonal charter service completed in February like Dynamic Airways is another reason for tourist decline in different regions without direct flights to Saipan, e.g. Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Nanchang, and Ningbo.
“Visitor arrivals are 21 percent higher overall this fiscal year, which is tremendous,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “However, we remain cognizant that tourism is a volatile industry, and as our study released last week on tourism sustainability shows, the Marianas still has a lot of work to do to stay on top of our A game. First, we need a realistic and controllable growth level. Urgently, the Marianas needs to fix immigration processing delays at the airport. And finally, we must improve our accommodations to keep pace with other destinations. We should take this as a time to improve, not rest on our laurels.”
Arrivals from Japan fell 26 percent to 4,331 visitors in February, largely due a reduction in air seats. However, on March 26 Jin Air will provide a better connection between Fukuoka and Saipan via Seoul, a move that travel agency H.I.S. is supporting with new travel packages to the Marianas.
Looking ahead to the summer months, HK Express is about to confirm the possibility of eight charter flights from Osaka and one from Nagoya in August and September. Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines is considering a FAM tour in late May or early June to push sales for packages from Sendai to Saipan via Seoul.
South Korea’s central bank has lowered its 2017 growth outlook to 2.5 percent, citing greater risks from already weak domestic consumption. The average dollar/won exchange rate in January was 1,189.52 won, considerably up from the December rate of 1,170.63 won. Korea Tourism Organization reported the number of Korean outbound travelers in December was 2,007,035, a year-on-year increase of 12.6 percent.
China continues to experience record-breaking per capita income growth. The per capita income statistics reflect accurately regional and municipal economic development. This indicator is one of China’s most frequently used statistics to determine domestic stability. In the month of January 2017, the China consumer price index saw an overall increase of 2.5 percent year-on-year.
The Japanese economy managed to expand for the fourth consecutive quarter in Q4 as a weak yen and strong global demand propelled export growth. Monthly rate average for the U.S. dollar to Japanese yen exchange in February 2017 was 112.87, up from 115.10 in the previous month of January. (MVA)