China advisory prompts worry

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Posted on Jun 07 2019

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An online report that China has warned its citizens to stop visiting the United States amid the trade tensions between the two countries is being viewed as having a wide-ranging—and damaging—impact on not just the U.S. mainland but also its tourism-reliant territories.

In the CNMI, Rep. Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) is hoping the advisory won’t affect the CNMI, as the Commonwealth is still trying to revive its arrival numbers in the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu.

The CNMI’s tourism industry primarily relies on China, Korea, and Japan for its visitors. The Commonwealth was enjoying steady arrival numbers prior to Yutu, with visitors from China increasing by 5 percent or close to 20,000 in September 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. China and Korea have always been the CNMI’s main source of tourists.

Last April, according to the latest numbers released by the Marianas Visitors Authority, visitor arrivals reached 39,663 compared to the 49,198 for the same period in 2018.

With this latest advisory from the China government, the state of Hawaii, just like the CNMI, might take a direct hit, according to the KITV.com report, considering the amount the Chinese market brings to their economies.

And this is what Guerrero, the House Commerce and Tourism chair, is concerned about. “In the event this advisory is strictly enforced, this is not good for us. The CNMI will not be able to recover from the current financial situation.”

“Imperial Pacific International will definitely be devastated because high-rollers will not travel here to gamble,” he added.

China’s decision, if it pushes through due to its trade dispute with the U.S., would hurt the only industry that the CNMI has depended on for years, Guerrero said.

“The worst-case scenario? Chinese investors will not invest in the CNMI. [They] would rather invest in the Federated States of Micronesia, other neighboring islands, and other nearby countries,” he said.

He pointed out that the U.S. trade war with China has dragged Mexico into the picture. Sooner or later, he said, other countries could get caught in the undertow.

House Ways and Means Committee chair Ivan A. Blanco, who is in the process of conducting a series of hearings for the fiscal year 2020 budget, has also expressed concerns. “We have to factor this in our fiscal year 2020 budget projections.”

Hawaii, according to KITV.com, could lose $370 million of revenue in a year as Chinese tourists spend an average of $356 per person per day when they visit the Aloha state.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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