Japan sees first increase since March 2013
Visitors arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands catapulted 25 percent in November 2016 compared to November 2015.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 47,261 visitors in November 2016, compared to 37,870 visitors received in November 2015.
Arrivals from Korea recorded its second consecutive month of 40-plus percent increase, jumping 47 percent to 24,764 visitors. This is due to an increase in the number of flights, including low-cost carrier Eastar’s daily Incheon-Saipan flight and Asiana Airline’s Incheon-Saipan daily charter flights both launched in October 2016.
Also, Jeju Air launched regular four times-weekly flight service from Busan to Saipan on Dec. 15, 2016, and T’way made its inaugural flight to Saipan from Seoul on Dec. 23, 2016.
T’way is the fifth Korean carrier to operate daily Incheon-Saipan route flights. The new operational service launches are expected to attract more Korean tourists to visit and experience the Northern Marianas.
Arrivals from Japan increased 6 percent to 4,697 visitors in November, the first month of increase from the critical market since March 2013, when 18,210 Japanese visited the Northern Marianas. Media have started to list the MVA’s new marketing tagline “Three-day Weekend in the Marianas,” which increased load factor on Delta Air Lines’ Narita-Saipan route. Also, there was a flight chartered by Shizuoka Prefecture government for the unveiling ceremony of a new Japanese monument in the Northern Marianas.
The MVA has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at revitalizing this once vibrant market. Negotiations are ongoing with Delta and other airlines to launch additional flights in 2017.
“November was a phenomenal month for the Northern Marianas in terms of visitor arrivals,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Not only did we receive 25 percent more visitors than November 2015, but every single market increased, including Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.
“Most significantly, we saw the first turnaround in our major source market of Japan in over three years,” said Concepcion. “The MVA will continue to explore new marketing opportunities in Japan to build upon this small step forward, such as our new ‘Marianas-chan’ (Marianas child) campaign that the MVA will be holding auditions for on Jan. 7. We welcome the community in helping us find that special child ages 4 to 6 who will be the fresh face of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota in Japan in 2017.”
Arrivals from China increased 3 percent compared to November 2015 to 14,901 visitors. At the China International Travel Mart in Shanghai, the CNMI was promoted via 15-plus influential media channels, which is a contributing factor to the increased volume of Chinese visitors who chose to visit the CNMI in November.
The MVA representative office in China continues to work closely with industry partners to increase awareness of the NMI in the market. China is now the largest outbound tourist market in the world, and the MVA has embarked on a campaign to attract premium, high quality tourists from this important market.
As the Chinese economy continues to grow, China outbound travel is anticipated to remain positive.
South Korea’s economy grew marginally in the third quarter, despite anticipated headwinds from Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and a labor strike at Hyundai Motor. The average USD/won exchange rate in November was 1,170.41 won, considerably up from the October rate of 1,135.98 won.
China has experienced steady growth since the beginning of the third quarter of this year. Both development trends, production demands and domestic consumption are continuing to see a healthy rise. In November, outbound tourism stepped into the off-season.
In Japan, the U.S. presidential election shock reversed in a short period, and the weakening yen/higher stock prices advanced. Monthly rate average for the U.S. dollar to Japanese yen exchange in November 2016 was at 108.55, up from 103.74 in the previous month of October. Housing starts and automobile production are also showing strong growth, and the domestic economy is improving, with improvements in both rural areas and big cities.