Although South Korea has already taken a leading tourist market share in the CNMI at 48 percent, the Marianas Visitors Authority is cautious about being overly dependent on any single market.
In response to Saipan Tribune’s questions about the CNMI’s visitors’ market share, MVA managing director Christopher Concepcion they have learned their lesson on the 1990s and early 2000s when Japan’s market share was over 80 percent.
“When that crashed, the whole CNMI economy tanked,” said Concepcion, adding that they cannot repeat that ever again, that’s why the MVA’s goal is to have a much more diversified tourism base of 30 percent of visitors coming from Japan, 30 percent of visitors coming from Korea, and 30 percent coming from China.
At present, he said, Korea leads at 48 percent, China accounts for 38 percent market share, while Japan is at 7 percent; the other markets make up the remaining 7 percent.
He said Japan has around 17 million outbound travelers annually out of a population of roughly 125 million.
He said Korea has around 23 million outbound travelers out of a population of about 51 million—“a very noticeable difference from Japan with less than half of Japan’s population.”
China, on the other hand, Concepcion noted, has a population of over 1.3 billion with outbound travelers totaling over 120 million last year. He said that the China market is just so massive that it’s impossible to ignore—“a huge market with huge potential.”
In his State of the Commonwealth Address last month, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres acknowledged that tourism continues to be a primary driver of the CNMI’s development.
“Every tourist who enters our islands, staying in our hotels and eating at our restaurants, is refilling our tank,” Torres said.
For the third year in a row, the governor said, the CNMI has welcomed more than 500,000 tourists.
“Tourism keeps the rain pouring, and the flow has been steady,” Torres said.