Tourist arrivals from China are expected to increase in coming days after the CNMI successfully secured weekly regular flights direct from Beijing starting next week, according to Century Tours vice president Alex Stutely and Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio.
These new thrice-a-week flights from China will be launched on Nov. 15 by Century Tours, in cooperation with China Eastern, which operated past charter services to the CNMI.
At present, Sichuan Airlines is the only carrier providing regular charter service from China through its four-times-a-week charter schedule from Shanghai and twice weekly flights from Guangzhou.
China Eastern will begin flying next week using an A330 aircraft with a seating capacity of 295.
On a weekly basis, Stutely said the CNMI will be accommodating about 900 tourists that will help boost the tourism industry on the islands.
This is the first time that China Eastern will be operating charter flights at this volume and Stutely is appreciative of the effort, saying the additional arrivals are extremely important for the CNMI at this time. The three times a week schedule will be on until next year, he added.
Saipan Tribune learned that the thrice weekly Beijing-Saipan service will depart Beijing International Airport every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday early in the morning and will arrive on Saipan the next day—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
“Our plan is to operate one whole year around and renew after that,” said the Century Tour executive. The company also charters flights from Shanghai and Guangzhou in cooperation with Sichuan Airlines.
Stutely said the opening of the Beijing market is advantageous because the economy in China is moving and tourists from the market have strong spending power.
Century Tours, a subsidiary of Luen Thai Enterprises, is a travel and tour service company headquartered in Shanghai. In cooperation with leading travel agencies in China, the company has already catered to over 100,000 Chinese tourists. Century Tours offers travel packages to island destinations such as Saipan, Tinian, Rota, Guam, and Hawaii. Century Tours is authorized by the China National Tourism Administration and Marianas Visitors Authority to offer Saipan tourism services to Chinese tourists.
MVA’s Tenorio described the additional air service from China as “absolutely important” for the CNMI. He said the China market is emerging as a very important source country for the CNMI travel industry.
He said MVA estimates the China market—with these new charter services—to bring in more than $150 million in total contribution to the Commonwealth economy through hotel occupancy, economic activity, and others.
Tenorio said the China market accounts for 14 percent of the total tourist arrivals on island.