April 2012 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands were up 42 percent compared to April 2011.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 30,691 visitors in April compared to 21,629 in April 2011. Overall, visitor arrivals are up 12 percent so far this fiscal year to 228,705 visitors.
Arrivals from Japan were 49 percent higher to 11,452 in April, a major rebound following the East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 and subsequent drop-off in travel from the primary source market. April arrivals from Japan also represent an increase of 9 percent versus April two years ago, and the greatest year-on-year jump in arrivals from the Japan market for the past several years.
Arrivals from Korea posted a third month of double-digit increases, up 48 percent to 9,399 visitors. Asiana Airlines has been operating Busan-Saipan charter flights from November 2011 to April 2012, driving significant growth out of the Busan market. In addition, Asiana Airlines resumed regular second weekly service from Busan to Saipan on June 13. This regular service had been suspended from June of last year due to lack of available aircraft. The supply of air seats to the Marianas out of the Korea market is expected to continue to increase due to planned charter flights from Incheon to Saipan during the coming summer peak season. Charters are already scheduled from Aug. 1 to 25 using an Asiana Airlines Airbus 321 with 171 seats.
Arrivals from China posted their highest month of growth so far this fiscal year in April, increasing 161 percent to 7,176 visitors. The number of airseats more than doubled in April 2012 compared to April 2011, as last year, the Northern Marianas only had two flights per week from Shanghai. So far this fiscal year, the Northern Marianas has received twice as many visitors from China as the same period last year due to additional flights, which include six total weekly flights from Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Meanwhile, arrivals were also up 46 percent from Russia to 414.
“April 2012 showed a solid recovery compared to last year from our primary source markets of Japan and Korea and our secondary market of Russia, all of which had been affected by the East Japan Earthquake of March 2011,” said MVA managing director Perry Tenorio. “That increase, plus the exponential growth of China, are positive signs for our tourism industry, but much recovery is still needed to restore a vibrant economy.”
Other markets posted lower arrivals for April, including Guam (18 percent to 1,259), the United States (24 percent to 640), the Philippines (40 percent to 38), Hong Kong (18 percent to 50), and Other Areas (87 percent to 263).
Japan and Korea economic highlights
The Japanese Cabinet Office raised its assessment in the latest monthly economic report, and the Finance Ministry announced the country remains on a moderate path to recovery.
During the month of April, the yen slightly increased in value versus the U.S. dollar and euro.
The Japan Travel Bureau conducted an online survey of mature travelers born between 1941 and 1955, and found that 2.8 percent of them made travel bookings online. When examining overseas travel separately, however, the percentage plummeted to less than 20 percent for tours with a guide, and 11 percent for free time type tours.
The Korean economy is showing a moderate pace of slowdown as external uncertainties eased and domestic demand slightly improved. Korea's budget plan for 2013 focuses on achieving a balance between revenues and expenditures and will mark the first time that the government has restored a balanced budget since 2003.
The daily oscillation of the South Korean won against the U.S. dollar narrowed to 5.0 won in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Bank of Korea.
According to the Korean Tourism Organization, the number of Korean outbound travelers in March 2012 was 1,018,952, an increase of 17.3 percent compared to the same month in 2011. (MVA)