MVA frets over weak China visitor arrivals


The number of visitors from China continues to decline in the CNMI and that is starting to worry Marianas Visitors Authority board chair Marian Aldan-Pierce, who suggested exploring other source markets for tourists.

At the same time, Aldan-Pierce laments that many of the factors affecting the CNMI’s visitor arrivals are beyond the CNMI’s control, such as the ongoing Hong Kong protests that is creating a bottleneck for tourists who have to transit through Hong Kong before flying to Saipan.

“There’s a lot of things right now that’s just totally beyond our control,” she said when asked Wednesday about recent suspension of some charter flights from China and the suspension of flights from Hong Kong.

Southern China Airlines recently announced the suspension of two of its four charter flights from Shanghai and two charter flights from Guangzhou starting last Dec. 2.

Of particular concern for the MVA is that the number of visitors from the People’s Republic of China keeps declining. “What we understand is that there’s a lot of external factors that’s way beyond our control,” Aldan-Pierce said, adding that MVA may need to look for opportunities elsewhere other than just the China market.

Another concern is the suspension of flights from Hong Kong since last week due to ongoing protests. Aldan-Pierce said that, on a bigger scale, the ongoing Hong Kong protest is part of the reason why the inbound numbers from China continues to decline. She pointed out that some of the CNMI’s visitors are actually from southern China and go through Hong Kong before coming here.

“[The protests] prevent people from going into Hong Kong to get those flights,” Aldan-Pierce said.

As for a recent letter to the editor of a woman traveling through Hong Kong who claimed that she was made to undergo a pregnancy test, Aldan-Pierce said they asked MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo to reach out to the airline to find out more about that issue.

Aldan-Pierce said they have never heard of anything like that. “It’s a horrible invasion of privacy,” she said.

The chairwoman said they just want to find out more about it and hopefully “prevent other people from having to go through what this poor lady went [through] unnecessarily.”

Aldan-Pierce informed Iakopo at the last board meeting that they just learned about the incident that apparently happened in Hong Kong where a passenger was told to take an invasive pregnancy test.

The chairwoman said they would like to reach out to the airlines to find more about the incident so they can prevent this from happening again. The letter writer had said that she was made to undergo the pregnancy test by staff of Hong Kong Express.

Aldan-Pierce instructed Iakopo to meet with Hong Kong Express and discuss the matter.

“Just a way that it will not happen to anybody again,” she 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

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