The Marianas Visitors Authority attended the 14th Shanghai World Travel Fair at the Shanghai Exhibition Center on April 20-23, sharing the beauty and mystique of the Marianas with the 45,000 attendees.
The MVA, in cooperation with Dynasty Holiday, Century Tours, and Imperial Pacific, profiled and promoted a wide range of Marianas tourism products to potential visitors and travel trade partners in East China and South China.
“Using the Shanghai World Travel Fair as a platform, the MVA strongly promoted the Marianas’ travel resources, emphasizing local culture, customs and themed travel,” said MVA deputy managing director Judy Torres, who led the MVA delegation at the fair. “We recognize the potential value of the continued growth of promising market segment. Our participation at SWTF enhances awareness of the Marianas and strengthens our ties with industry peers in China, all toward making the beautiful islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota the first choice for island travel for Chinese tourists.”
To much acclaim, the MVA again featured traditional Chamorro and Carolinian dance performances. An additional feature was the invitation of Miss Universe China 2013 Jin Ye, who visited the islands earlier this year. She shared her experiences with the traveling public, including her ATV tour, luxury yacht experience, and cultural exploits. Well-respected media professionals the Bao Zou Sisters also attended the fair and shared their personal travel experience with the public via their massively popular Chinese micro blog.
While charter flights remain the primary mode of transport from mainland China to the Marianas, the MVA and a local travel agencies are increasingly introducing free independent and semi-independent travel options to Chinese tourists, providing travelers with more options to explore at their own leisure, be it family travel, weddings and honeymoons, or a private diving tour.
Since the formal opening of an MVA office in China in 2012, the number of international visitors traveling to the Marianas has tripled. Travelers from mainland China accounted for 206,538 visitors in 2016, or 41 percent of total annual visitors. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the China National Tourism Administration, the Marianas ranked fifth in the “Top 100 Preferred Travel Destinations for Chinese Tourists.” In 2016, the MVA received the much sought-after “2016 China Tourism -Potential Destination Award,” as well as the “Top 10 Word-of-Mouth Island Travel Destination” and the “2016 Best Tourism Partnership Award.”
To further enhance the influence of the Marianas in the China market, the MVA has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with FLIGGY, Alibaba’s travel brand. The MVA-theme Pavilion will be introduced on FLIGGY’s online platform, displaying local customs and traditions as well as providing updated CNMI-related travel information. This relationship is expected to become a significant contributor to the Marianas tourism industry.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is the only U.S. territory offering Chinese tourists visa-free arrival. The unique benefit has indeed greatly benefitted the local tourism industry. The continuation of this visa waiver would support continued growth in Chinese arrivals to the Marianas. (MVA)