‘Growing airline industry right path for gradual recovery’


Noting the CNMI’s small population, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said last week that the right path for the gradual economic recovery is to increase the airline industry. 

“When we increase our airline industry, we bring in our tourists. Because tourists are the driving force of our economy,” said Torres in response to a question during a KKMP press briefing Friday. 

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported last week about a 33% average occupancy rate among its 12 member hotels for August this year as compared to only 12% average occupancy in August last year.

Torres said without tourists, there’s no economy in the CNMI due to the small population or lack of wealth to subsidize and create their own economy here, unlike other countries.

He emphasized anew that it is imperative that the Legislature create a bill that gives incentive to companies that bring in not just tourists but new investment money to stimulate the CNMI’s economy.

The governor said the administration, the Marianas Visitors Authority, and partners worked on the Japan market and that it’s obviously a successful partnership with the United Airlines that is now flying the Saipan-Japan route. 

He said with the Saipan-Japan direct flights, it is good for locals traveling to the U.S. mainland, through Japan, and a great way to fly to Asia or Japan.

Torres said they are working on having additional tourist destinations.

“Hopefully, we can have Australia next and also the Philippines,” said the governor, adding that the more CNMI diversifies its economy to various tourist destinations like Korea, Japan, Australia, Vietnam,  the Philippines, and other destinations, the better because it exposes the Commonwealth to various different countries. 

Torres said as they are pushing to make the CNMI a world-class destination, he is thankful to the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers  for making that one step closer to reality.

For the first part of 2021, GCEA worked to prepare the CNMI for the return of tourism. In line with GCEA’s longterm goal of transforming the Marianas into a world-class destination, GCEA launched the Marianas Village Pride Campaign and other community activities. 

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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