CNMI anticipates rise in Japanese travelers


CNMI community stakeholders raise a glass to the return of the CNMI’s Japan market as well as in commemoration of United Airlines’ first flight from Narita, Japan to Saipan during the Japan-Saipan inaugural flight ceremony last Friday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan ballroom. (KIMBERLY B. ESMORES)

With Japan easing up on its travel restrictions, the CNMI is hoping to see a rise in Japanese tourists traveling to Saipan in the months to come.

During the celebratory dinner to commemorate the return of the CNMI’s Japan market, and to celebrate United Airlines’ inaugural flight from Narita to Saipan, it was announced that the Japanese government has eased its travel restrictions for its boosted population.

According to Marianas Visitors Authority Travel Resumption Investment Plan chair Ivan Quichocho, about 60% of the Japanese population is boosted and MVA is focusing most of its efforts in enticing them to visit Saipan.

“First and foremost, we need to fill these flights. The Japanese government just eased restrictions for those that are boosted, meaning that they don’t need to take PCRs before they leave, or when they return. Now, over 60% of the Japanese populace has already been boosted. So that’s a huge market for us to be able to immediately tap into and so that’s super important. So right now, our main focus is to attract those customers and get them over here. Fill the flights,” he said.

Fortunately, Quichocho said, since Saipan’s pristine golfing ranges have always been selling points for the Japan market, and the golf market usually consists of the older population, odds are most of these individuals are already boosted which is good news for the CNMI.

What we immediately need to concentrate on are those that are already boosted. And when you think about the golf market, a lot of them are higher up in age. So typically, they’ll be boosted already. So we’ve really channeled efforts to focus on niche markets in golf, diving, and whatnot,” he said.

Because Japan has just eased its restrictions, Quichocho said it is still going to be a challenge to really fill up seats for September, however, he is hopeful as the winter months approach, the CNMI hopes to see a rise in Japanese tourists coming to Saipan with hopefully 80% to 85% of each weekly flight filled.

“The easement of restriction was just announced. So obviously with the recent wave spikes still there, the numbers are still over 200,000 in infections. However, [Japan] is starting to take this on more as an endemic. So September is still going to be tough to try and fill given restrictions that were just lifted. Japanese have a tendency to book in advance. So if you ask me, our main goal is to have at least 460 a week. That’s for all three flights because the plane holds 166 per flight, so times three. So 460 I think we’re at a reasonable number,” Quichocho said

However, optimistically, Quichocho said the hope and mission is still to completely fill each 166-seater weekly flight.

“It’s our mission to fill these flights up. But if we get 80-85% loads, that’s a decent load,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at

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