December 2012 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands were up 15 percent compared to December 2011, marking a 17-percent jump in total visitor arrivals for calendar year 2012.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 38,526 visitors in December compared to 33,418 in December 2011. This boosts total visitor arrivals in 2012 to 400,269, exceeding the 400,000 mark for the first time since 2006.
“We’re very pleased to close out 2012 with 12 months of consecutive gains and a 17-percent increase in visitor arrivals, overall,” said MVA managing director Perry Tenorio. “Several factors played a role in this and will continue to influence arrivals in 2013: more available air seats; strategic and cost-effective marketing efforts by our offshore offices in Japan, Korea, and China; the global economy and other international affairs working in our favor; and the buy-in of the local community to make our destination hospitable, attractive, and safe.”
Arrivals from Japan reached 13,942 visitors in December, 6 percent higher than December last year, as the Japan market continues to stabilize. Asiana Airlines launched daily service from Osaka to Saipan starting Dec. 21, 2012, and running through March 31, 2013, using an Airbus 321 with 177 seats, which will ensure continued strong growth out of the Osaka market for the coming three months. Asiana Airlines also launched charter flights from Narita to Saipan from Dec. 21, 2012, through Jan. 2, 2013, generating 2,949 additional seats out of the Tokyo market.
Arrivals from Korea rose 13 percent to 12,873 visitors. The supply of air seats to the CNMI out of the Korea market has increased since November, with Asiana Airlines boosting its Busan-Saipan service from two to four flights a week beginning Nov. 20. On Jan. 10, Asiana Airlines also began operating charter flights twice weekly using an Airbus 330 with 290 seats for the winter season until Mar. 28, 2013, which will bring an additional 6,670 air seats out of the Korea market to the Northern Marianas.
Arrivals from China continued their double-digit growth trend, jumping 53 percent in December to 8,716 visitors. In addition to six weekly flights from Shanghai and Guangzhou, two weekly direct non-stop flights operate from Beijing to Saipan. In conjunction with Century Tours, DFS Saipan, and other key China travel agents, the MVA China office has launched a large-scale billboard, subway advertising, PR and travel trade campaign in support of the Beijing flights. Arrivals are anticipated to see another spike during the Lunar New Year holiday starting Feb. 9, 2013.
With the launch of bi-weekly direct charter flights from Vladivostok to Saipan in late October, arrivals from Russia leaped 34 percent in December to 901 and are expected to see continued rapid growth throughout 2013. (MVA)