$30.8M impact on tourism in August alone


The cancellation of flights due to Typhoon Soudelor and big planes being unable to land at the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport earlier this month translated to $30.841 million in lost revenue for the islands, according to Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio.

The Commonwealth Ports Authority cancelled numerous flights after Soudelor busted the airport’s runway lights and prevented nighttime flights, while emergency maintenance on the airport’s lone specialized fire truck downgraded the airport from an Index D to Index C, which prohibited large aircraft from touching down with passengers.

So far, Tenorio said, they’ve estimated a total of 12,491 tourist cancellations—10,547 cancelled due to Soudelor and the night flights not resuming later and 1,944 tourist cancelled from the airport’s index downgrade.

Tenorio also said the direct impact from Soudelor is estimated at $10.416 million, while the indirect impact is $15.624M, for a total of $26.041 million. When the airport index was downgraded, the direct impact was $1.919 million while the indirect impact was $2.7879 million, totaling $4.799 million.

In all, he said the revenue loss from both Soudelor and the downgrading of the airport’s index is estimated at $30.8 million.

In addition, Tenorio said potential taxes lost by the government because of Soudelor and the downgrading of the airport’s index in August is $2.150 million—some $1.542 million in lost gross revenue tax and $608,617 in lost hotel occupancy tax.

Hotel impact

Gloria Cavanagh, president of Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, said that August is usually a peak season for hotels.

“For the past couple of years, the average occupancy rate was above 90 percent. This August was supposed to be higher than the past years. With the storm on Aug. 2, we saw an immediate cancellation of additional charter flights out of Japan,” Cavanagh said.

“Overall, this was a decrease of about 10,500 visitors. Through the first week, most of the hotels experienced drastic drops in their occupancy levels. Toward the end of the first week, as our local customers wished to escape their powerless, waterless homes, we saw our occupancy levels rise,” she added.

She said that during the second week, emergency crews started arriving on island. However, hotels were unable to confirm long stays as major flights from China started up again on the Aug. 16.

“It was difficult and still is for emergency personnel to find hotel rooms. Even with the airport not being able to support widebody vessels from Aug. 22 to Aug. 25, our occupancy levels did not dip too much as there were many stranded from this problem. With the flights back, we are back to normal occupancy rates for August,” she said.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com.

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