‘Mariana Resort closure will lead to exodus of Japanese businesses’


The Japan Saipan Travel Association is urging the government to extend the public land lease of Kan Pacific Inc. in Marpi and warned that the closure of its resort, the Mariana Resort & Spa, will lead to a mass exodus of what little Japanese-owned businesses are left on Saipan.

In a Sept. 24 letter to Department of Public Lands Secretary Pedro A. Tenorio, JSTA president Masaru Sunaga appealed that Kan Pacific be allowed to continue to operate its landmark hotel and golf course.

“I write to express our grave concern about recent reports that Kan Pacific Inc. (dba Marianas Resort & Spa) may not be allowed to continue its public land lease in the Northern Mariana Islands. We write to sincerely endorse the continued operations of Kan Pacific Inc. as a vital part of our business activities and the CNMI economy.”

Sunaga said a number of JSTA member-companies have a business relationship with Mariana Resort, and its closure—coupled by the continued decline in Japanese arrivals due to it shutting down—may lead to these establishments also closing their operations.

“The closure of Kan Pacific Inc. and reduction of Japan arrivals will assuredly result in downsizing and some closure of related businesses within our members, further reducing government revenues and local employment.”

Sunaga reiterated the historic importance of the Japan market to CNMI tourism, but conceded that tourist arrivals from the country are not what they used to be.

“Recent declines in arrivals from Japan can be attributed to two main factors: economic (including severe devaluation of the yen) and competition among markets for an insufficient number of hotel rooms in the CNMI.”

He, however, assured Tenorio that, as Japan’s economy recovers, JSTA anticipates more demand from Japanese tourists who want to travel to the Commonwealth.

Sunaga said the CNMI would be best served not to put all its eggs in one basket but also make room for Japanese tourists.

“However, if most hotel rooms are catering to another market, arrivals from Japan will remain low. Given current demand for the CNMI, it’s clear that more hotel rooms are needed, not fewer.”

The JTSA president said market diversification is the key to guarantee that the CNMI tourism industry will not become overly dependent on one market, should that market suddenly collapse.

“This is a real possibility for the China and Russia markets, which are dependent on the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver program, which can change anytime. In this regard, it would be prudent to continue to nurture and maintain the markets of Japan and Korea,” Sunaga told Tenorio.

JSTA is composed of 42 Japanese tour operators, travel agencies, OP tours, diving companies, restaurants, and hotels.

Mariana Resort is pursuing at least a $30-million added investment for a 25-year renewal of its public land lease that’s expiring in April 2018.

Part of that additional investment is the addition of 100 executive rooms. Currently, Mariana Resort has 74 hotel rooms and 50 individual cottages.

Its talks with DPL on the 25-year extension apparently hit a snag as reports surfaced that Hong Kong-based Best Sunshine International Ltd. is interested in the public land currently being leased by Marianas Resort. Best Sunshine is planning to build a $7.1-billion integrated casino resort on Saipan.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.