According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota continued to make steady recovery in December 2018 following Super Typhoon Yutu, which hit the destination in October 2018.
December marked a halfway point in recovery at 26,831 visitors, 53-percent lower than the 57,331 visitors received December 2017 but a marked increase over the 6,000 visitors who visited the islands in November 2018.
“In December, The Marianas saw a 40-percent increase in visitors from the previous month. This shows a steady recovery in arrivals following Yutu and a restored sense of confidence among visitors that we are again a beautiful and welcoming place to visit,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “There is still demand for the destination, and we look forward to welcoming more visitors and to the full restoration of flights and the commence of new flights from Japan and Taiwan in 2019.”
Arrivals from China are 16-percent lower compared to December 2017 at 15,827 visitors. HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines service from Hong Kong and other flights from cities in mainland China including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou were all resumed in November. To deliver a strong message that The Marianas is ready to receive more Chinese tourists, the MVA encouraged travel agent sales by sponsoring a Sweetour blogger trip, Brighten Travel Agent FAM tour, Hangzhou Agent FAM tour, Beijing Media FAM tour with Century Tours and Asiana Airlines’ client banquet. The 2018 Shenzhen International Tourism Expo was joined with key partners. Promotion for the 2019 Saipan Marathon was undertaken with Wanda Sports and other running platforms through online and offline activities, including recruitment at 2018 China Sports Culture Expo & China Sports Tourism Expo, 2018 Xiamen Marathon, and IRONMAN 70.3 Xiamen.
Arrivals from Korea dropped 76 percent to 7,125 visitors in December. Asiana Airlines resumed its night time flights from Seoul Incheon on Dec. 20, following Jeju Air’s earlier resumption of daily daytime flights from Seoul Incheon on Nov. 27. Its night time daily flights from Busan resumed on Dec. 21. Jeju Air’s daily night time flights from Incheon were scheduled to resume on Jan. 21, and T’way Air’s night time flights will resume five times weekly on. Mar. 31, increasing to daily flights on May 15.
Arrivals from Japan were 8-percent lower than December 2017 at 942 visitors due to the lack of direct flights to Saipan. Skymark Airlines has officially announced the commencement of direct service from Japan to The Marianas in 2019. A team of 30 Skymark staff members visited Saipan in December for preparations, to present their plans at the MVA general membership meeting, and to meet with members of the Japan Saipan Travel Association to confirm commencement of charter flights in March. Skymark has also contracted office space at Saipan International Airport.
Source markets economic highlights
South Korea’s economy could grow around 2.6-2.7 percent in 2019 amid a slowing global economy and U.S.-China trade disputes, the South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance said. The average USD/WON exchange rate in December was 1123.52 won, a slight decrease from the previous rate of 1124.85 won in November.
In China in November 2018, the nationwide consumer price index increased by 2.2 percent compared to the previous November. Although the exchange rate of the USD – RMB has risen, it has little effect on the price of the Spring Festival products. The price is basically the same as previous years, which is beneficial to the public to choose an outbound tour.
Japan’s consumer price inflation eased to a five-month low of 0.8 percent year-on-year in November 2018 from 1.4 percent in the previous month, in line with market expectations. The Bank of Japan left its key short-term interest rate unchanged at -0.1 percent at its December meeting, even after the Federal Reserve raised rates for the fourth time this year. Japan National Tourism Organization reported that the number of Japanese overseas travelers was up 12.8 percent year on year, reaching 1,646,200 in October 2018 (preliminary figures). (PR)