Encouraged by the 139 percent jump in passengers ferried to the CNMI, Japan Airlines said yesterday it would operate six charter flights in August and September as part of its campaign to boost the island’s slumping tourism industry.
According to Japan’s flag carrier, it will be using either DC10 or B767 to service the Nagoya and Fukuoka to Saipan routes
JAL said passengers carried by airline in July increased 139 percent compared to the same period last year. Of this 11,478 came from Tokyo while 6,498 from Osaka.
Since January of this year, JAL’s share in the total visitor arrivals was over 50 percent as it continues to carry out its own marketing blitz to help pull out the island’s tourism industry from distress since it was battered by the Asian economic crisis.
The Marianas Visitors Authority has been trying to convince other airlines to increase seat capacity and market share in Japan, the island’s main source of visitors.
With hotel occupancy averaging only at 55 percent, the Hotel Association of Northern Marianas has asked JAL to cover a Nagoya-Saipan flight at least three times a week to stir faltering tourist arrivals. Saipan hotels had enjoyed several days of high occupancy during Japan’s Golden Week last month.
Based on the arrivals record of MVA, visitors coming from Japan have shown a slight improvement after suffering a double-digit decline for a long time. However, Japanese have become cautious in their spending, a practice which may stay for a long time.
Japan, the world’s second largest economy, has been battling its worst recession since World War II. Tour operators are hoping that economic reforms being undertaken by the Japanese government would stimulate international travel.