Visitor arrivals to the CNMI jumped 17 percent in July 2016 compared to July 2015. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 47,736 visitors in July 2016, compared to 40,882 visitors received in July 2015.
Arrivals from Korea posted their strongest month so far this year, jumping 38 percent in July to 21,092 visitors. With direct double daily flights from Seoul by Jeju Air, and double daily service from Incheon by Asiana Airlines in the summer season, arrivals from Korea to the NMI are projected to remain extremely strong through the end of this year. In addition to new flights launched last month from Korean Air’s low cost carrier Jin Air, a fifth Korean airline is expected to launch service from Seoul to Saipan at the end of this year, driving continued rapid growth in Korean arrivals well into 2017.
Arrivals from China increased 9 percent compared to July 2015 to 19,572 visitors. With new charter flights launched by Dynamic Airways from Nanjing and Hangzhou, the MVA’s China office worked with local tour operators to carry out a wide range of marketing promotions in support of the new flights, including an outdoor advertising campaign with a total exposure value of $285,000, as well as supporting media and travel trade FAM(ilarization) tours to boost the NMI’s destination awareness in these new markets of China and increase flight bookings on the new flights. In addition, with heavy bookings by mainland Chinese visitors on PAL Express’ new flights via Manila, and on Hong Kong Airlines new flights via Hong Kong, the number of Chinese visitors to the NMI is expected to rapidly rise for the remainder of this year.
Arrivals from Japan fell 26 percent to 4,172 visitors in July. The MVA is working hand-in-hand with Delta Air Lines and key agents to launch a large scale promotional campaign designed to secure the re-instatement of the second Narita flight by Delta during the coming months. In July, the MVA also appointed 227 Northern Mariana Islands Tourism Ambassadors among tour planners and travel agents that had participated in FAM tours to the islands earlier this year.
Source markets economic highlights
In July the Japanese government slashed its domestic economic growth projection for this fiscal year due to the postponement of the consumption tax hike, previously planned for next April. The government now expects the Japanese economy to grow 0.9 percent in real terms in the year through March from the previous year, down from 1.7 percent forecast in January. The yen continued to grow in value against the US dollar for the eight month in a row, to an average of 103.85 yen for the month. South Korea’s economy continued its flat performance for three straight fiscal quarters, growing 0.7 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to Bank of Korea. The average USD/WON exchange rate in July was 1,142.40 won, a slight decrease from the June rate of 1,168.35 won.