Visitor arrivals up 30 percent in FY 2017
Visitors arrivals to the Marianas jumped 18 percent in September 2017 compared to September 2016, marking 653,150 total arrivals for fiscal year 2017, a 30-percent increase in arrivals over the prior fiscal year.
This is the fourth highest fiscal year arrivals in Marianas history, the record being 726,690 in fiscal year 1997.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 50,848 visitors in September 2017, compared to 43,264 visitors received in September 2016.
“Early this year the Marianas was recognized by the United Nations World Travel Organization as the third fastest growing tourist destination in the world, and favorable international growth and our collective efforts in government, the private sector, and the community have reaped astounding growth for the fiscal year overall,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “We are grateful to all our partners for believing that, ‘Tourism is Everybody’s Business,’ and we are grateful for the support of the administration.
“However, with the recent passing of Public Law 20-17, which took away nearly a million dollars in MVA funding for the mayors of Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, the MVA will be forced to curtail or eliminate some community events and cut some marketing programs planned for our source markets,” he added.
Arrivals from Korea increased 30 percent in September to 25,691 visitors. Korea was also the top-performing market for the year, marking 66-percent growth to comprise over half of all visitors.
One national flag carrier and four low-cost carriers—Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, T’way, and Eastar Jet—provide Incheon-Saipan flight services, while Asiana Airlines and Jeju Air also offer flights between Busan and Saipan.
Arrivals from China grew 15 percent compared to September 2016 to 18,073 visitors. Visitor arrivals from China increased 11 percent in the fiscal year and comprised 35 percent of total visitor arrivals. In September, the MVA attended 2017 ADEX Beijing Ocean Week (Beijing), 2017 PATA Travel Mart (Macau), 2017 China International Tourism Industry Expo (Guangzhou), and 2017 International Islands Tourism Conference Zhoushan & International Islands Tourism Expo (Zhoushan), targeting more specific vertical audience in specific regional markets.
In supporting inaugural flights from Nanjing to Saipan, the MVA is targeting further the market potential in East China.
Arrivals from Japan were at 4,835 visitors in September, 12 percent lower versus September 2016. Arrivals from Japan decreased 16 percent on the year, comprising 8 percent of total visitor arrivals. Delta Air Lines has announced plans to use larger aircraft on its daily flight from Tokyo-Narita beginning mid-November 2017 through March 2018, adding 24 additional daily seats, which should increase overall arrivals from Japan.
While Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are reviewing their Japan-Guam service, Delta is upgrading their service to Saipan. The MVA believes ongoing decline for Japan market is a perceived value issue for travelling to the Marianas. Japanese satisfaction to the Marianas is only around 30 percent, while for Hawaii it is almost 8 percent and Guam is almost 70 percent, indicating room for product/service improvements to satisfy Japanese tourists.
Until the end of September, Delta flight rate was in the range of $500 to $600 but was suddenly lowered to $250 in October. However, travel agency packages are sold based on printed material and cannot be reduced quickly. The MVA hopes to attract more FIT/repeat customers who make their own travel arrangement who take advantage of the lower flight cost.
South Korea’s consumer prices rose in August at the fastest pace in more than five years, due mainly to a sharp increase in food prices, government data showed. The average US dollar/won exchange rate in September was 1,128.61 won, a slight decrease from the previous rate of 1,133.87 won in August.
Following a slowdown in private non-residential investment in Japan, growth in the second quarter was revised down to 2.5 percent. Despite this revision, it marked the fastest expansion since Q1 2015 and puts the economy on a steady track to recovery. Monthly average rate for USD to yen exchange in September 2017 was 110.65, compared to 109.77 in August 2017.
China’s Consumer Price Index of August 2017 saw an overall increase of 1.8 percent year on year. The 2017 National Day holiday week saw the island tour product price index reach 140.9, an increase of 7.8 percent compared to the previous month. Short-distance island destinations such as the Marianas, Bali, and Phuket are the most popular ones. (MVA)