Launch of Japan travel bubble is pushed back

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The Marianas Visitors Authority has yet to launch the Japan travel bubble due to the daily increase of COVID-19 cases in Japan, particularly the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Initially MVA’s target launch for the Japan travel bubble was December but due to the increase in omicron-positive cases in Japan, the launch has been pushed back and remains uncertain.

In short statement from MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo, she said that MVA continues to monitor the situation in Japan and other market sources before moving forward and launching a travel bubble.

“Due to the omicron variant, we are closely monitoring other source markets such as Japan as the daily cases in Tokyo, Japan are increasing,” she said.

According to a previous article on the Saipan Tribune, MVA had expected to launch the Japan travel bubble by mid-December to early January with the first step being to inform the Japan Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Health about the CNMI’s interest in reopening the route between Japan and the CNMI.

“We were advised [by MVA Japan office] that December is probably a good target date as vaccination rates in Japan continue to [accelerate], as well as how the Japan government is also controlling the cases there. We understand that the Japan government has not been pushing to entertain any travel bubble with any other destination right now because they’re really trying to control their COVID-19 cases there,” Iakopo had said in that earlier interview.

Back in September, TRIP Japan ad hoc committee chair Nick Nishikawa started discussions with the MVA Japan office on how they will carry out the first steps in establishing the Japan travel bubble.

MVA board chair Viola Alepuyo said in a previous MVA board meeting that it is important to aggressively push forward with the Japan travel bubble.

“We only have one thing that we can sell right now, and that’s how safe our community is. That’s a marketing tool that nobody else in our region can boast of. Let’s use that marketing tool and be aggressive to establish the other travel bubbles so that we can get the tourists coming in in order to boost our economy,” she had said.

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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