‘CNMI is the only marketable destination in South Korea’

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The Marianas Visitor’s Authority attributes the recent spike in bookings from South Korea to Saipan to the CNMI being the only endorsed travel destination in that country right now.

According to Ivan Quichocho, MVA board member and TRIP South Korea chair, the CNMI is currently the only government marketable destination in South Korea and, because of this advantage, the CNMI has gained so much exposure, resulting in the influx of bookings for the following months.

“As a result of this Travel Bubble, CNMI is the only marketable, South Korean government-endorsed, destination for [South Korean] citizens. We are on every landing page of major travel wholesale, the tour agents, we’re on every channel on outbound vacations. We continue to be covered by the various media outlets in South Korea. The [TRIP] program created this buzz that we can’t even put a dollar figure on. We’re the only destination they can go to. That’s invaluable. You can’t buy advertisement or market influence like that,” he said.

Quichocho said this exposure got started on the foundation of the CNMI being one of the safest places in the world to travel right now. “It started with the foundation of being safe. Hats off to the administration’s COVID-19 Task Force, [Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.], and all the front-liners. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that hard work,” he said.

According to a previous article on the Saipan Tribune, MVA bookings to the CNMI have surpassed the 600 mark just a week into September. As of last Thursday, MVA travel agent partners in South Korea have already confirmed about 650 bookings for September alone.

Meanwhile, for the month of October, 483 bookings have been confirmed, according to Quichocho.

“Currently, as of Sept. 8, October is sitting at 483 bookings. The projection is 853 or 850, so given that we’re only at Sept. 8, and the daily bookings are at a pace of a minimum of 100 bookings per day, I anticipate that that October number that we projected will be achieved, if not exceeded,” he said.

Quichocho added that bookings from South Korea to the CNMI have been at a consistent pace with a minimum of 100 bookings daily. “Just to give you an idea on the pace of bookings, starting Aug. 31 for September through the end of November, which is the period we’re selling, we picked up 113 bookings on the first day alone. On Sept. 1, we picked up 48 bookings, the second 75 bookings, the third 109 bookings, the sixth 119, and Sept. 7, we issued 325 bookings in one day. For Sept. 8, there was 107 bookings. So the pace seems to be pretty consistent,” he said.

With the influx of tourists in the coming months, MVA is confident that roughly 384 tourism industry workers will be back to work in time for the holidays.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista 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 kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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