More tourists would have traveled to the Commonwealth in the last few months had the islands had enough hotel rooms for prospective guests.
This challenge was specifically cited by the Marianas Visitors Authority among the factors behind the flat arrivals from the CNMI’s No. 1 tourism market, Japan.
In July, this destination posted a 2-percent decline compared to the same period last year, dropping from 10,988 to 10,783.
The drop, according to an MVA statement yesterday, is blamed primarily on Delta Air Lines’ cancellation of flights from Narita last month, coupled with the rapid devaluation of the Japanese yen.
However, it also blamed “the continuing difficulty agents had in securing rooms for last-minute Japanese visitors for this summer because competition for rooms from the Korea and China markets is heating up.”
According to MVA records, the Japan market posted a total of 120,585 visitors in the 10-month period from October 2012 through July 2013.
MVA indicated that there was a 6.6 percent drop in airlift from the Japan market following Delta’s flight cancellations last month.
Although Asiana Airlines charters from Narita compensates for this air seat loss, MVA said this was not sufficient to cover for the entire shortfall created by Delta’s cuts.
Gov. Eloy S. Inos earlier told Saipan Tribune that based on the government’s inventory, there are only over 2,000 hotel rooms that are currently in operation out of the 3,000 existing rooms on island. He said about 400 rooms are not up to standards and need to be repaired.
Inos said the CNMI has reached a point of saturation on accommodation and that renovating existing hotel rooms is one of its biggest challenges right now.
For the past consecutive months, tourist arrivals have consistently shown double-digit growth, corresponding with remarkable occupancy rates in hotel rooms since early in the fiscal year.
21 pct. hike in July
According to MVA, the Commonwealth experienced a 21-percent growth in its visitor arrivals in July, showing consistent increases in all markets but Japan.
July’s visitor arrivals totaled 39,144, a large jump over the 32,478 recorded in July 2012. This marks the biggest increase in arrivals since June 2012.
From the Korea market, arrivals in July this year totaled 13,071—a 15-percent spike from July 2012’s total of 11,391. Since the start of fiscal year 2013, the Korea market posted only one month of decline in arrivals: February, by 19 percent.
According to MVA, Asiana Airlines reduced airlift by 1,022 seats in June and July for its Busan flights. However, the airline boosted its Busan flights this August, bringing in 1,833 additional seats. From July 15 to Aug. 31, it will bring in an additional 8,319 seats to the CNMI, sustaining the strong growth of arrivals this summer.
The China market soared by 49 percent in July to 11,177 visitors, in part due to an additional flight from Beijing. A continued rapid growth is projected out of the China market for the remainder of this fiscal year, with travel projected to peak during the national holidays in early October. Arrivals from China in the last 10 months have already exceeded the total number of arrivals from China for all of last fiscal year, 78,928.
Arrivals from Russia more than doubled in July, jumping 127 percent to 977. The Northern Marianas has been receiving bi-weekly direct charter flights from Vladivostok from October 2012 to August 2013 and weekly charter flights from Khabarovsk since March this year, driving the rapid growth out of the Russia market, which is projected to continue for the remainder of this year. Weekly charter flights from Vladivostok will resume in October 2013.
As with China, arrivals from Russia have already surpassed the total number of arrivals from Russia for all of last fiscal year, 9,641.