‘More Korean tourists coming, new restaurants opening up’

New hybrid hotel eyed to accommodate more tourists, returning residents

The CNMI’s investment in the Travel Bubble Program with South Korea is now seeing results, according to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, who noted Friday the recent opening of new restaurants on Saipan, which he believes is a good indication that investors have seen a “bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Speaking at his regular radio press briefing, Torres said that South Korean tourists are now coming in strong numbers. He believes about 50 tourists came in Thursday last week and close to 100 others were expected to arrive last Saturday—all of them the result of the CNMI’s investment in the Travel Bubble arrangement with Korea.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot more of those numbers in the coming months,” the governor said, adding that they are looking at another hybrid hotel to accommodate the tourists as well as returning residents.

He said the system in place against COVID-19 is working and continues to work and that they just need to get more manpower to assist COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez and his team, whether it’s at the Saipan airport or at the quarantine site.

“I just want to let our community know that we have opened up our tourism, and we will be seeing more of our Korean tourists on the street,” said Torres as he assured that everything is in place to safeguard the community.

In terms of new investments in the CNMI, Torres pointed out that somebody who has invested on Saipan for so many years recently opened the Plumeria Steakhouse in Garapan. Near the Plumeria Restaurant is also a new type of restaurant, Kamakazee’s, which is owned by a local entrepreneur who took the initiative/risk to make the investment. He said there’s also a new Vietnamese restaurant near the Kristo Rai Church.

“These businesses are open when our tourism has yet to spike up. So they see something. They’re willing to take the risk and it’s really a bright light at the end of that tunnel,” Torres said, and he encouraged the community to patronize these businesses.

He said he is happy to see these new restaurants as its good for the community and definitely good for the tourism market and can be part of the Marianas Visitors Authority.

The governor urged other businesses across the world to see the CNMI as a good place to invest. “This is where you want to grow your business, make a profit and provide employment and pay taxes,” Torres said.

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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