Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres led a delegation from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in a series of meetings with key Korea tourism partners on Feb. 21, 2020, in Seoul.
The meetings aimed to reinforce key partnerships in the Marianas’ key source market at a time when tourism has been declining worldwide due to COVID-19, although the Marianas itself has no confirmed cases of the virus.
“We had very productive meetings with airline executives and travel organizations from Korea, and we thank them for assisting us in promoting the Marianas in our number one visitor market,” said Torres. “Our meetings were focused on strengthening our partnerships with our airline and travel partners for the long term, despite the unexpected economic downturn from the coronavirus outbreak. The CNMI government continues to be at the forefront of U.S. efforts to protect our people and our islands from the coronavirus. We continue to reassure our Korean tourism partners that the Marianas remains coronavirus-free destination and continues to be a top-choice destination within the region in the years to come.”
The governor was accompanied by Marianas Visitors Authority acting board chair Gloria Cavanagh, board members Jerry Tan and Warren Villagomez, and managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo.
“As a key part of the MVA’s crisis management plan, the Marianas delegation met personally with top executives of our major airline and travel agent partners to discuss ways we can best weather this storm together,” said Cavanagh. “Cognizant that these companies are also suffering in this downturn, we proposed several co-op opportunities that aim to restore confidence in travelling to the Marianas and reboot bookings.”
The delegation met with president and chief executive officer Chang-soo Han of Asiana Airlines, president and chief executive officer Hong-Geun Jeong of T’way, executive director Myung Sub Yoo and other representatives of Jeju Air, president and chief executive officer Jinkook Kim of Hana Tour, president and chief executive officer In-tae Yu of Mode Tour, and president and chief executive officer In Joong Kim of Yellow Balloon.
The Marianas delegation offered monetary incentives for tourism partners to increase marketing and promotions of the destination, including more exposure on digital and social media channels for airlines, incentives for extra flights, and support for travel agencies and online travel agencies.
The MVA has already initiated a series of crisis management activities through its Korea office. A press release in January announcing the Marianas as a COVID-19-free destination and the suspension of flights from China was covered in 33 articles across travel trade and general audience media. Announcement of Saipan as the reward vacation destination chosen by popular Korean drama Stove League generated 293 media articles, while a reward vacation destination article by drama “Dr. Romantic” generated 39 media articles.
In addition, the celebrity show Soccer Adventure filmed on Saipan is now airing, while Those Cross the Lines Returns will air in March. Both shows are each anticipated to reach 2 million people per episode.
Facebook and Instagram notifications on the Marianas’ virus-free status have also been circulated. (MVA)