FAM tour participants praise CNMI’s preparedness

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The CNMI has received nothing but praise from the familiarization tour participants who came to the CNMI back in July to experience firsthand the wonders the CNMI has to offer interested Travel Bubble participants.

The FAM tour, which concluded last month, was organized by the Marianas Visitors Authority as a sort of test run for the CNMI-South Korean Travel Bubble that was launched shortly after. The tour consisted of representatives of tour agencies, representatives of South Korean media, heads of airlines that service the CNMI, and social media influencers.

Most of the FAM tour participants shared the same opinion after their over two-week trip to CNMI: They felt safe despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In summing up his experience in the CNMI, Lee Jinseok of Naeil Tour found Saipan to be safe and clean. “Saipan is wonderful. It’s safe and clean, this is how I describe it from my experience. When I get back to Korea, I will promote the CNMI to all the Koreans I know. Saipan is safe and is such an uninfected and clean region,” he said.

Kim Jaewook, Hana Tour department head, echoed Jinseok, saying that if there was anything that stuck with him after his experience, it would have to be how clean the CNMI was.

“We, travel agencies, will do our best to promote the CNMI so that the support from the CNMI is not in vain,” he said.

Ko Kyungpyo, Jeju Air director, said he was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the quarantine protocols were, ensuring both the tourists’ and the CNMI community’s safety. The warm welcome they received from the CNMI community was also another pleasant surprise for him.

“I was surprised here in the CNMI for two reasons: the first thing is the systemized quarantine protocols from Saipan International Airport to the hybrid quarantine hotel, and second thing is the warm greeting and welcoming from the CNMI community. We operated three daily flights before the pandemic. Jeju Air will do our best to promote the CNMI so that we can return to two daily flights or three daily flights eventually,” he said.

Kim Kyongtae, Asiana Airlines team leader, shared that, despite his doubts at first, he now has full confidence in the CNMI’s safety protocols.

“Before I came to Saipan, I doubted the Travel Bubble, but now, I have full confidence with the facilities at the airport, the quarantine protocols, and the preventive and precautionary measures implemented in the CNMI. I am convinced that I could send enough tourists. The airline will also work hard to promote the CNMI to resume tourism,” he said.

Kim Hyungyi, T’Way Air managing director, said the FAM tour was a great opportunity for him to experience how well the CNMI prepared for the Travel Bubble and the CNMI did not disappoint.

“This was a great opportunity for myself to see how well the CNMI prepared, especially in terms of quarantine. Saipan is one of my favorite islands for its beautiful sky, crystal blue and clear water, and diverse activities. As an airline company, we will take the responsibility to [ensure] safe operations and do our best to bring more Korean travelers to the beautiful Saipan,” he said.

Meanwhile, TTL News journalist Jeong Yeonbi said it was a great honor to experience how well prepared the CNMI was when welcoming tourists in the midst of COVID-19.

“It was a great honor to be here and have experienced the well-developed and prepared preventive measures in the CNMI from this FAM tour. On behalf of the media team, we will deliver articles on the high-quality measures, preparation standards, and protocols to the Korean audience. Through those articles, we will try our best to provide information about the CNMI and those who have not yet experienced Marianas as the safest destination in the world,” she said.

Han Seongmin, a social media influencer, said she is excited to introduce the CNMI to all her followers. “It’s been two years since we stopped traveling so I was very excited. I’ll do my best to introduce the Marianas as one of the safest destinations to all my followers,” she said.

The Travel Bubble program will end in December.

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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