The tourism industry is still awaiting a return to normalcy since vaccinations and quarantine are still required for most international travel, according to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig.
This is so despite the many countries that have begun to return to pre-COVID-19 activity as the presence of new COVID variants have milder effects worldwide, said Atalig in the economic outlook that he also discussed in his second quarter financial report for fiscal year 2022.
In the CNMI, Atalig said, levels of commercial activity are anticipated to increase due to the partial resumption of tourism through charter flights from South Korea and proposed charter flights from Japan.
However, he said, the restrictions placed on travelers and the size of the planned resumption will not be sufficient to realize pre-COVID-19 levels of economic activity.
Atalig said the collaboration between the administration and the Marianas Visitors Authority on the Travel Bubble Program provides an on-ramp to help support local economic activity.
He said an increase in Korean and Japanese transit visitors will help boost confidence for international travel.
With the CNMI’s vaccination rate at 99.9% of the total population, he said, this should help mitigate the unnecessary impacts to daily life and daily travel, boosting international confidence in traveling to the CNMI as a well-known vaccinated tourism destination.
Atalig said it is also through this collaboration that the CNMI is able to move forward in hosting the Pacific Mini Games by next month, in hopes that it will increase demand and domestic consumption of tourism services in the Commonwealth.
“Any boost in tourism will help support the CNMI’s goals and budget expectations,” he said.
Atalig said any of these individual consumption patterns will likely have an impact on revenues through the remaining quarters of this fiscal year.