Visitor arrivals fell 34 percent to 32,108 visitors in October 2018, compared to 48,950 visitors received in October 2017. The reduction was largely due to the temporary closure of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport following Super Typhoon Yutu, which passed through the islands on the evening of Oct. 24. The airport resumed normal daytime operations on Nov. 15 and 24-hour operations on Nov. 20.
“The Marianas community and tourism industry are recovering rapidly from Super Typhoon Yutu, and we are keeping our tourism partners and potential visitors fully aware of all our progress,” said Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Our initial estimates were that about 25 percent of hotels rooms were impacted, some of which have already come back online. In the meantime, we were extremely fortunate that many of our hotels, especially in central and northern Saipan, had little or no damage and are operating as usual. With the reopening of the Saipan airport, we are looking forward to the full restoration of our tourism economy. Saipan, Tinian, and Rota have a wonderful spirit of community and resiliency, our mountains have turned green again, and our ocean and sky are just as blue as ever. The Marianas is still a beautiful place to visit, and we warmly welcome back our visitors.”
Arrivals from Korea dropped 36 percent in October to 15, 552 visitors. Direct flights from Korea will resume on Nov. 27 with daily time flights from Incheon by Jeju Air. Asiana Airlines will resume its nighttime flights from Seoul on Dec. 20. At this time, the resumption of Jeju’s and T’way Air’s night time flights from Incheon remain suspended until March 2019. Flights from Busan have also yet to resume.
With the loss of 17 weekly charter flights from mainland China, arrivals from the country dropped 22 percent in October to 13,708. However, HK Express resumed service from Hong Kong on Nov. 23, and other flights from cities in mainland China including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou are scheduled to resume beginning today, Nov. 26. Some flights have already been fully booked as the MVA and its tourism partners work toward the yearend holiday season.
Arrivals from Japan were 90 percent lower in the month at 334 visitors, largely due to the cessation of direct flights from the country to the Marianas in May 2018. Radio station FM NACK5 had originally scheduled to bring 80 listeners on a “Breath of Earth for Saipan” incentive tour; due to Super Typhoon Yutu, the tour has been rescheduled to March 2019. Also, the Kyobun College of Tokyo Judo Therapy has announced that, in support of Saipan following Yutu, they will bring 50 student therapist volunteers and their families to support Saipan Marathon 2019. Skymark Airlines is still scheduled to begin direct flights from Tokyo in 2019.
Further details of the destination’s post-typhoon tourism recovery plan will be shared by the MVA at its general membership meeting on Dec. 14, 2018, at 10am at Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan. Interested individuals may reserve a seat by emailing MVA Community Projects coordinator Demalynn Pagarao at dpagarao@mymarianas or calling 664-3210.
South Korea’s 3rd quarter growth was 2 percent, the lowest year-on-year gain since the third quarter of 2009. The sluggish result was announced a week after the Bank of Korea revised down its growth target for 2018 from 2.9 percent to 2.7 percent. The average USD/won exchange rate in October was 1129.53 won, a slight increase from the previous rate of 1119.65 won in September.
In September 2018, the China national consumer price index increased by 2.5 percent than previous year. Prior to Typhoon Yutu, data platform Mafengwo Travel reported that Saipan was among the top island destinations in October, along with Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phuket, Nha Trang, Tokyo, Bali, Singapore, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Japan’s annual inflation rate edged down to 1.2 percent in September 2018 from 1.3 percent in the previous month, mainly due to lower prices of food. It is the second-highest figure in the last seven months. (PR)