Japan flight cessation leads 9-percent drop in May
Total visitor arrivals to the Marianas for the fiscal year are holding steady compared to the same period last year at 411,619 visitors, less than 4 percent off last year’s mark.
Visitor arrivals to the Marianas fell 9.7 percent in May 2018 compared to May 2017 due to the cessation of direct flights from Japan early in the month and lower arrivals from Korea.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands totaled 46,093 visitors in May 2018, compared to 51,023 visitors received in May 2017.
With the cessation of direct flights from Japan by Delta Air Lines on May 6, arrivals from Japan dropped 70 percent lower than April 2017 at 1,238 visitors. However, the Marianas is anticipating 29 summer charter flights and the commencement of flights from Japan by Skymark Airlines in the winter season. MVA is in direct discussion with other airlines to operate seasonal charters during the late summer and early winter schedule.
“Until we can resume flights from Japan, we are expecting a slight decline in overall visitor arrivals. The good news is, we will have regular flight service again within a few months, and we have a series of summer charter flights and possible fall charter flights ahead. In the meantime, we should all anticipate to tighten our belts,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “This is the nature of the tourism industry. Some factors are within our control, but most are not. We remain focused and strategic about our mission until this tropical storm passes, so to speak.”
Arrivals from China grew 4 percent compared to May 2017 to 19,280 visitors, bolstered by steady airlift from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Hong Kong.
In addition to the International Labor Day Holiday on May 1, the MVA’s promotional efforts in April, including road shows in Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and industrial expos like 2018 Hangzhou Super Health Expo, directly contributed to the growth of visitors to the Marianas in May.
Themed promotional strategies also helped with the boost, with focus on the travel theme of food in May. Information on Taste of the Marianas International Food Festival & Beer Garden was shared with charter companies to encourage them to develop themed travel products. The temporary closure of Boracay in the Philippines is also expected to continue to increase China tourism to the Marianas.
Arrivals from Korea dropped 12 percent to 22,076 visitors, yet the country retained its position as the top performing source market. This decline is largely due to fewer flights than in May 2017 from both Incheon and Busan.
T’way Air resumed its daily schedule from June 1 through October. It has also announced plans to operate charter flights with 189 seats on Sept. 21-29 during Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving holiday week. During the period, over 1,500 seats will be added.
Also, Jeju Air is awaiting the final approval to fix a detailed schedule for charter flights from Aug. 3 to Sept. 3 for a month.
The Marianas also received one ship arrival with 360 crewmembers in May 2018.
Among men, women, and children, South Korean women have for the first time outpaced men in the number of travelers heading overseas (47 percent), according to the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute.
The average USD/won exchange rate in May was 1075.14 won, a slight increase from the previous rate of 1,066.27 won in April.
In China, the Consumer Price Index of April 2018 saw an overall increase of 1.8 percent comparing with 2017. According to the Baihe.com Joint AoYou.com Official “White Paper on Island Wedding Trends in 2018,” the popularity of island wedding has suddenly risen and is the first choice for those under the age of 30.
The number of Japanese overseas travelers was up 9.9 percent year on year, reaching 1,356,700 in April 2018. The total for the first four months of 2018 reached 5,978,000 (+3.6 percent). (MVA)