Due to the overwhelming growth in the number of visitors from Russia, the government is now thinking of opening a tourism office there, with the sole objective of capturing more travelers from the market.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio disclosed to Saipan Tribune that a proposal is now on the MVA board of directors’ table for deliberation.
Once decision is finalized, the MVA offshore office will be established in Russia next fiscal year, he added.
“This is something the board is deliberating and we’re targeting to make it happen by next fiscal year,” Tenorio said.
At present, the CNMI has three tourism offices: in Japan, South Korea, and China.
The Northern Marianas receives bi-weekly direct charter flights from Vladivostok and weekly charter flights from Khabarovsk.
Arrivals from Russia in March this year registered a 140-percent growth compared to the March 2012 record: from 688 to 1,648 arrivals.
Year-to-date records from MVA show that in November 2012 this destination recorded an overwhelming growth of 192 percent, from just 240 visitors in November 2011 to 700 visitors in November 2012. In the following months of December and January, the Russia market yielded 34 percent and 52 percent growth, respectively.
In February 2013, the destination registered a 114-percent growth.
This year’s March arrivals were the biggest from the Russia market, with a total of 1,648 tourists.
Tenorio said the decision to open an offshore office in Russia will still depend on the budget that will be given to the MVA for its operational activities in fiscal year 2014. The CNMI budget for next fiscal year has yet to be finalized.
According to press secretary Angel A. Demapan, the proposal for a new tourism office outside the CNMI is always welcome but funding for this purpose must first be secured.
“The administration welcomes the idea of opening an offshore office in Russia to further promote the CNMI to the Russian tourist market. The governor has submitted his budget proposal to the Legislature. Between now and the beginning of the new fiscal year, the administration will continue to monitor revenues generation activity. If there appears a trend of increased revenue activities during the period, then the administration will be open to revisiting its budget proposal for all critical agencies,” he told Saipan Tribune.
For Tenorio, the consistent growth of arrivals from all source markets is due to the CNMI’s beautiful products and its U.S. visa-free entry for Chinese and Russian tourists.
MVA projects a 7-percent growth in arrivals from all markets this fiscal year compared to last year.