MVA looks at expanding ‘travel bubble’ to Japan

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The Marianas Visitors Authority is currently discussing plans to expand a proposed travel bubble for South Korea to Japan. 

During MVA’s monthly board meeting last Thursday, the Travel Bubble Committee discussed plans to possibly expand the travel bubble program that is currently in the works for South Korea.

According to Ivan Quichocho, who is a member of the Travel Bubble Committee, the committee is talking about starting the process to launch the travel bubble in Japan, given how long it is taking to launch the program for Korea. 

“Despite what’s happening in those regions, let’s start getting the protocols and the parameters that would allow us to operate all ironed out and laid out,” he said. 

Quichocho said the travel bubble for Japan may be a little different in terms of safety protocols, given that it will take about six months to launch. One of the proposed ideas for the Japan travel bubble was setting Rota as the destination. 

“So maybe we should look at Rota as the start for a Japan bubble, as Rota has always been Japan-centric in terms of source markets. They have sufficient rooms to handle a narrow-body charter [plane]. It’s going to be a little bit different from Korea, because if we’re starting this now and it takes us six months, that puts us in summer, so kind of anticipating that vaccinations and these kind of things would be further down the road. We want to just talk in general about what we foresee as potential rollback of some of the restrictions. And given that the vaccine companies haven’t authorized kids yet, or pregnant women, there’s still that bit of roadblock in a larger community that may keep us so restricted,” he said. 

Travel bubble committee member and MVA board vice chair Gloria Cavanagh seconded the idea, adding that they have also been talking about selling Rota as a “wedding destination” for the travel bubble. 

“As we go toward summer, June seems to be still the month when people want to get married and, you know, we can promote [Rota] that way, as kind of like a wedding destination,” she said. 

Cavanagh said the first step, however, is reinstating the MVA offshore office in Japan in order to organize the travel bubble within Japan. 

“On the ground, as far as the Japanese market, we don’t have any strong partners anymore. The two biggest tour agents that we actually have on the ground don’t have the capacity to actually move this along. I don’t think that there’s a strong presence in the Japan hotels that would be able to do something like what we’re doing with the Korean [travel bubble],” she said. 

MVA managing director Priscilla Iakopo proposed a $6,000 monthly rate to reinstate the Japan office. 

“We definitely need to reinstate the Japan office to really help us with the communications and networking and give us all the information we really need to execute [the travel bubble]. With that, with several discussions, we’re proposing a monthly rate of $6,000. And that would cover whatever information [we] need and assistance,” she said. 

The MVA board unanimously voted to reinstate the Japan office and wire $6,000 monthly to the offshore account. 

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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