7,000 tourists cancel trip to NMI


Some 7,000 tourists have so far canceled their trips to the CNMI in the wake of Typhoon Soudelor’s devastation that has turned much of what was once billed as a “paradise” into a disaster zone.

Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Perry Tenorio said the typhoon has caused the shutdown of night flights, which was one of the reasons for the cancellations.

He did not specify but said a bulk of the cancellations came from “various Asian countries.”

For now, there is no specific date from the airline companies on the resumption of the night flights, but the airlines companies are “working on resuming the flights,” Tenorio said.

One good thing, Tenorio said, is that CNMI hotels continue to operate so that tourists who are now on Saipan are being accommodated.

This also means the MVA’s tour partners can continue inviting tourists.

Tenorio said the MVA’s tour partners are being kept abreast of progress as relief and recovery efforts continue on Saipan.

“What we continue to do is share with the MVA’s travel partners what is happening and tell them that government is working to get the island back to acceptable conditions,” he said.

Speaking of tourists on island, Tenorio said the MVA has not gotten any reports of injuries or casualties.

He admitted that the 7,000 cancellation will impact tourism, at least for the month of August which, he said is “usually very busy.”

“For August of last year, the number was 47,000. This will be obviously be lower for this month because of the cancellations,” Tenorio said, adding that “despite the damage, we’ll do our best to accommodate tourists. What is critical is to make sure the hotels remain open.”

Tenorio added that there are “no indications” that hotels will be closed, although some have been damaged.

“There is an ongoing assessment from the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands,” he said.

Tenorio added that the hotels do not have any issues so far when it comes to water and fuel supplies.

“Initially, fuel was a concern, but when the service stations opened, this has been addressed,” he said.

Many hotels are also accommodating local residents who are seeking refuge in hotels due to the lack of power and water in their own homes. There are reports, though, that some guests are bringing in other families, cramming them into single rooms, in violation of hotel policy.

Typhoon Soudelor hit Saipan on Aug. 3, devastating much of the island of Saipan and leaving thousands of residents without power and water.

The typhoon later killed about five persons in Taiwan, five are missing, and caused more than 3 million households to lose electricity. All 279 domestic flights on the island were canceled Saturday, as well as at least 37 international flights. At least 101 people were injured in the storm.

Joel D. Pinaroc | Reporter
Joel Pinaroc worked for a number of newspapers in the Philippines before joining the editorial team of Saipan Tribune. His published articles include stories on information technology, travel and lifestyle, and motoring, among others. Contact him at joel_pinaroc@saipantribune.com.

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