CNMI open to Australian tourism market


The CNMI welcomes the possibility of an Australian tourism market that has been in the works for about a year now.

According to Travel Weekly Australia, Aviation expert Neil Hansford is currently working on setting up a domestic airline called Marianas Pacific that would essentially service an Australian-Saipan route, among other COVID-safe destination routes.

Commonwealth Ports Authority chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds confirmed that Hansford, along with Pacific Rim president Keith Stewart and his team, recently gave a presentation before the CPA board discussing the possibility of establishing a domestic airline in the CNMI that would cater to the Australian market.

Although the idea is still in the works, King-Hinds believes it’s a good opportunity for the CNMI that should be seriously considered.

“As we are all aware, the CNMI has always sought stability in our airline service both internationally and interisland. The opening of a new route to Australia presents good opportunities for diversifying our tourism market. I believe discussions are still ongoing but the route presents good opportunities for the CNMI that we should seriously consider and properly vet,” she said.

Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla Iakopo shared the same opinion, stating that additional markets for the CNMI is a plus as it drives broader economic growth.

“COVID-19 has taught us not to depend on just one market—as one market goes down, we should have others. Having various types of healthy markets sustains our tourism industry, resulting in job creations, job security, and development of infrastructures, overall enhancing the quality of life for our people,” she said.

According to the Travel Weekly Australia article, the CNMI checks all the boxes in terms of COVID-19 safety, since the island is nearing herd immunity level of having 80% of its eligible population being fully vaccinated, quality hotels, pristine diving spots, and low crime rate.

The article goes as far as comparing the CNMI, specifically Saipan, to popular vacation destinations like Bali and the Philippines.

With this in mind, Saipan is being touted as an ideal travel spot for Australians eager to travel but who are also hesitant due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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