According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota reached 42,076 visitors in June 2019 compared to 47,341 in June 2018—an 11% decrease.
South Korea posted its best monthly performance since Super Typhoon Yutu in October, retaining its position as the top-performing source market for the Marianas with 21,270 visitor arrivals. Although arrivals from Korea were 11% lower overall compared to June 2018, continued improvement in the market was seen as all Jeju Air (Incheon and Busan to Saipan routes) and T’way Air flights operated daily during the month. In addition, Jeju Air, a leading low-cost carrier in Korea, has decided to add more flights from Incheon to Saipan to target the coming peak season. The airline will operate four more flights a week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from July 27 to Aug. 31, 2019. Also, T’way Air will increase its air service starting Oct. 27, 2019, adding one more daily operating flight from Incheon to Saipan.
Arrivals from China were 15% off last year’s mark at 17,159 visitors in June. The market continues to face a rising renminbi-U.S. dollar exchange rate as a result of U.S.-China tensions, which is also making tourists more hesitant to travel to U.S. destinations. Furthermore, Southern China market has been suffering tough competition from islands destinations in Southeast Asia.
Among the region (Guangzhou and Hong Kong), the intensive air transport became a disadvantage. In order to help sales in the southern China market, MVA China conducted two road shows in Changsha and Wuhan and participated in the Hong Kong International Travel Expo with key partners.
Japan posted 517 visitors for the month, 7% higher than June 2018. Skymark Airlines has announced nine direct charter flights from Tokyo Narita International Airport to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport between Aug. 9 and Sept. 22, 2019. Based on the high demand for charter flights from Tokyo earlier this year, MVA is anticipating the continued growth in arrivals from the market since daily direct flights ceased in May 2018. Arrivals to the Marianas from Japan via Guam have also faced difficulty due to fewer interisland flights.
Bank of Korea reported a deficit in South Korea’s current account balance, the first since 2012, and negative growth in the first quarter. The average U.S. dollar/won exchange rate in June was 1177.34 won, a slight increase from the previous rate of 1174.07 won in May. More South Koreans are choosing to take an early vacation this summer while also looking for ways to cut overseas spending.
In May 2019, the consumer price index in China went up by 2.7% year on year. China, the world’s top spender reported $277 billion in international tourism expenditure in 2018, a 5% increase in real terms from a year earlier. (MVA)