The Marianas Visitors Authority partially lifted the baseline mode operation of the tourism agency and reopened its offshore office in China in an effort to maximize opportunities for the islands' tourism industry.
Because of the government's cash flow problem and delays in the budget allotments for MVA, the board was forced to order a baseline mode operation on MVA since October 2010.
This forced the tourism body to suspend the functions of ad-hoc committees and stopped nearly all its overseas promotions, primarily relying on representation services of its offshore offices in Japan and Korea.
During yesterday's MVA general membership meeting, board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce announced that the partial lifting of the baseline mode is expected to last until at least September this year.
Aldan-Pierce disclosed that the board diverted a portion of its budget to reopen the China office.
To date, she said the reopened office is now actively working with its partners in China, the media, and consumers.
Saipan Tribune learned that MVA terminated its office site in China in 2005 as a result of low tourist arrivals from the market during the time. Now that the China market's share in tourist arrivals in the CNMI has improved, MVA revived its offshore office in the market.
Aldan-Pierce reported to members yesterday that China arrivals posted the highest increase, representing a 123-percent hike since the start of the fiscal year through March 2012. China posted arrivals of 37,000 from September through March.
Other destinations like Korea also posted increase in arrivals during the same period with a 10-percent hike or about 65,000 arrivals. The Russian market, it was announced, also posted a gain of 10 percent or about over 3,000 arrivals.
Overall, Aldan-Pierce revealed that the CNMI posted a 8-percent increase in total arrivals through March this year, with over 198,000 arrivals. Unfortunately, she said, arrivals from the key market of Japan showed consistent decline. She said because of MVA's market diversification strategy, this helps alleviate some of the losses incurred from the decline in the Japan market.
MVA also has existing offices in Japan and Korea, considered the top tourism markets of the CNMI. In other destinations like the Philippines, China, and Russia the agency is partnering with travel agents.
This fiscal year, MVA was appropriated $5 million for its operation. Of the figure, over 80 percent is being utilized in promotions and marketing while the remaining budget is allocated for personnel and all others.