September 2013 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands jumped 9 percent compared to September 2012. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 33,329 visitors in September compared to 30,472 in September 2012.
Fiscal year 2013 visitor arrivals totaled 433,735, an 11-percent increase compared to fiscal year 2012 and returning the CNMI to visitor arrival levels last seen a decade ago.
Arrivals from Japan in July dropped 18 percent in September to 10,083 visitors. Overall, arrivals from Japan in fiscal year 2013 were down 1 percent compared to fiscal year 2012, compared with a drop of 6.5 percent for Japan’s overall outbound market, meaning that travel to the CNMI from Japan has outperformed the overall market. At 148,343 arrivals, Japan retains its position as the CNMI’s number one source of overseas visitors, although that position is being threatened by rapidly rising arrivals from Korea and China.
Arrivals from Korea soared 23 percent in September to 10,848 visitors, more than any other source market. Overall, arrivals from Korea were up 6 percent to 135,458 in fiscal year 2013 compared to the previous fiscal year. Korean arrivals are projected to continue rising rapidly with the announcement of a new airline launching service from Korea to the CNMI. Dynamic Airways will launch new flights from Seoul to Saipan from Oct. 30, flying twice a week Wednesday and Saturdays and adding another 26,000 annual seats out of the Korean market. These new flights alone will ensure continuous strong growth out of the Korea market for the coming year.
Meanwhile, arrivals from China jumped 48 percent in September to 9,760 visitors. Overall, arrivals from China were up 43 percent in fiscal year 2013 compared to the previous fiscal year, reaching 112,570 visitors, which is an all-time record high. The MVA is particularly placing emphasis on positioning the CNMI as a Sports Paradise for Chinese visitors, for example working with leading online booking portals in China to launch new package tours surrounding Hell of the Marianas in December 2013. Continued rapid growth is projected out of the China market for the remainder of this year, with travel projected to peak this month during the national holidays.
Finally, arrivals from Russia soared by 164 percent to 526. Arrivals from Russia nearly doubled in fiscal year 2013 to 11,002 compared to fiscal year 2012. In response to this phenomenal growth out of the Russia market, the MVA has decided to launch its first-ever year-round marketing program in the Russia market effective Oct. 1, targeting primarily Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in the East Russia market with campaigns designed to support the rapidly growing number of charter flights from East Russia to the CNMI, and to work closely hand-in-hand with AVIACHARTERS and Asiana Airlines on numerous one-stop flight promotions out of Russia to the CNMI.
In September, Japan’s Cabinet Office once again upgraded its monthly economic report to “the Japanese economy is on the way to recovery at a moderate pace.” In September, the yen declined in value against other currencies during the first half of the month, but regained strength during the second half to end the month at 97.92 yen to the dollar.
South Korea’s gross domestic product expanded 1.1 percent in the April-June period from three months earlier. The won/dollar exchange rate fell 49.6 over the past month to be closed at 1,059.3 won per dollar.
A Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey shows that global fund managers are increasingly optimistic about China, despite the not-so-rosy figures on its economy. A net percent of respondents from Japan, the Asia Pacific Rim and global emerging markets believe China’s economy will strengthen in the next year, a contrast to the net 32 percent who predicted a weakening economy just one month ago. The China Foreign Exchange Trading System reported the Chinese currency renminbi, or yuan, strengthened by 14 basis points to 6.1557 against the U.S. dollar on Sept. 18. (MVA)