Tourist arrivals from Russia is expected to significantly increase starting this fiscal year after the CNMI successfully secured 19 total charter flights from the destination, which is anticipated to bring in an additional 2,850 passengers to the island.
At exactly 12:45am Friday, the first batch of 150 Russian tourists arrived at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport onboard the inaugural flight organized by AviaCharter DV via Airbus 320 aircraft. The flight was from Vladivostok.
Marianas Visitors Authority acting managing director Judy C. Torres, along with agency executives Bruce Bateman and Tatiana Babauta, welcomed the passengers of the maiden flight made up mostly of first-time visitors to the island.
With excitement on their faces, tourists were offered shell leis, mwars, and a special welcome dance presentation by indigenous dancers.
According to MVA marketing manager Bruce Bateman, of the 150 Russian passengers eight were media representatives who will conduct familiarization tour on three islands, 34 are representatives from travel agents, and 12 are VIPs that include Primorsky Region Vice Governor Irina Sednina and International Relations and Tourism Deputy Director Vladimir Shchur.
Bateman and Torres described the 19 charter flights from Russia as “extremely important” to the CNMI. They said these new flights will be operated until March next year and will have biweekly then weekly flights starting in December.
Compared to other tourists from other destinations, MVA officials disclosed that Russians “stay longer and spend more” which is a positive contribution to the CNMI economy.
“Russia is a growing market for us and this inaugural flight is a step toward the CNMI's economic growth. With these charter flights, we will see tremendous increase in Russian arrivals to the island,” said Torres.
Among those who were welcomed on the maiden flight was AviaCharter DV director Roman Chernayvski who admitted that negotiations for the charter flight project took more than a year to accomplish.
Chernayvski described the Northern Marianas as a good place to stay as it offers both safety and comfort to visitors.
Another representative from AviaCharter, Anna Evstigneeva, shared with Saipan Tribune that the maiden flight left Russia 9pm Thursday and described the more than four-hour journey as a wonderful experience.
All 150 passengers, she said, will be staying for a week to experience and enjoy the serene beauty of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Also a first-timer on the island, Evstigneeva said many friends who have been to the island had good words about the CNMI which motivated more Russians to explore the destination.
She said repeat tourists from Russia are one in saying about the islands' beautiful nature and high quality service of its people.
Last Friday night, a special dinner at Pacific Islands Club was hosted to welcome the passengers of the maiden charter flight with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Rep. Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), chairman of the House Committee on Commerce & Tourism, in attendance.
MVA, in a statement, said that media representatives and travel agents on the flight are scheduled to tour Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. FAM tour hotel accommodations and tour support are being provided by DFS Saipan, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, World Resort Saipan, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Aqua Resort Club Saipan, Mariana Resort and Spa, Tasi Tours, Sand Castle Saipan, Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan, Stars and Stripes, Marianas Trekking, Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, Star Marianas Air, Rota Resort & Country Club, PDI, and Good Tour Company.
MVA managing director Perry Tenorio encouraged the community to continue to extend the island hospitality to the visitors. The Russian visitors are schedule to depart on Friday.