July 2013 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands were up 21 percent compared to July 2012. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 39,144 visitors in July compared to 32,478 in July 2012. The increase marks the largest percentage increase in visitor arrivals since June 2012.
Arrivals from Japan in July were essentially flat in July, down just 2 percent to 10,783 visitors. There was 6.6 percent drop in airlift, as Delta Airlines reduced its air seat supply from Narita with cancellations of the third Narita flight in July this year. This was partly compensated for by four Asiana Airlines charters from Narita with 290 seats per charter, but this was not sufficient to compensate for the shortfall created by Delta’s cuts. The key travel agencies in Japan attribute the flat market from Japan to the NMI to the rapid devaluation of the Japanese yen, and the continuing difficulty agents have had securing rooms for last-minute Japanese visitors to the NMI this summer, as competition for rooms from the Korea and China markets heats up.
Arrivals from Korea rose 15 percent in July to 13,071 visitors, more than any other source market. Asiana Airlines is rotating out seven Busan to Saipan flights in June and July for regular aircraft inspection, reducing lift by 1,022 seats. However, Asiana is also boosting its Busan-Saipan flights from four times a week to daily service during the month of August targeting the summer peak season, using an Airbus 320 with 141 seats and bringing in an additional 1,833 seats to the Northern Marianas this summer. In addition, Asiana is operating daily charter flights from Incheon to Saipan from July 15 to Aug. 31 using an Airbus 321 with 177 seats, bringing an additional 8,319 seats into the NMI, ensuring continued strong growth in Korean arrivals this summer.
Meanwhile, arrivals from China jumped 49 percent in July to 11,177 visitors, in part due to an additional flight from Beijing compared to June 2012. 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 have already exceeded the total number of arrivals from China for all of last fiscal year, 78,928.
Finally, 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. (MVA)