Visitor arrivals to the Marianas jumped 38 percent in January 2017 compared to January 2016, according to the latest data from the Marianas Visitors Authority.
MVA data shows that arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota totaled 63,346 in January 2017, compared to 46,011 visitors received in January 2016. This is the third best January arrivals in Marianas history. The record for January was set in fiscal year 1997 with 66,935 arrivals that month.
Arrivals from Korea nearly doubled for the second month in a row, soaring 80 percent to 30,831 visitors, representing nearly half of all tourist arrivals to the Marianas.
South Korea’s strong outbound market provide direct flight services to the Marianas via five airlines: Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Eastar, and T’way.
Arrivals from China increased by 23 percent to 25,403 visitors.
The Chinese New Year holiday was celebrated in January this year, compared to falling in the month of February in 2016.
Also, in January China’s outbound travel increased 9.8 percent compared to January 2016, and the price index of Saipan ranked a favorable fifth compared to other island destinations.
Lastly, Dynamic International Airways operated charter flights in six cities in January, continuing through the end of the Spring Festival holiday period in early February; these cities, including Wuxi and Hangzhou, are all second-tier cities which have been gaining increased recognition and momentum due to the rapid development taking place in each of the respective cities.
Arrivals from Hong Kong increased by 101 percent in January to 295 following the launch of regular direct flights to Saipan by Hong Kong Express, providing more convenient travel at low cost for visitors from both Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta in mainland China.
Arrivals from Japan fell 26 percent to 4,058 visitors in January, largely due a reduction in air seats. Market conditions have begun to stabilize with the adjusted seating capacity on the sole direct flight between the Marianas and Japan.
Delta Air Lines’ flight from Tokyo-Narita to Saipan had a capacity of 169 total daily seats in January 2017 versus 199 seating capacity in January 2016, a decrease of 30 available seats in January 2017 due to standard aircraft rotation.
Talks between the MVA and Delta are ongoing regarding the possible increase in flight service to the Marianas in 2017.
The revived image and new branding of the Marianas was well-received at last week’s Marianas Seminar and Workshop series in Japan. Travel agents and airline partners are keen about the anticipated opening of new hotel rooms this year, which would ease strong room competition with other source markets.
MVA has also launched its 2017 Group Incentive Campaign to encourage group travel during the shoulder season (low season) and is working on increasing the frequency of charter service in summer 2017 from Osaka and Nagoya.
The NMI also received one cruise ship arrival in January with 1,903 visitors aboard, largely from China.
South Korea’s central bank has lowered its 2017 growth outlook to 2.5 percent, citing greater risks from already weak domestic consumption. The bank’s projection is slightly gloomier than the Finance Ministry’s growth target of 2.6 percent, but rosier than most think tanks’ 2.1-2.4 percent forecasts. The average dollar/won exchange rate in January was 1,189.52 won, considerably up from the December rate of 1,170.63 won.
In December 2016, the Chinese national consumer price index rose 2.1 percent. Also, never before has China experienced an exodus of this magnitude during the Chinese New Year celebrations, with over 700 million individual trips having been undertaken, both domestically and internationally. (MVA)