Not counting the zero tourist arrivals in the CNMI in since late March this year, the revenue of the Marianas Visitors Authority took a bad hit in 2019, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu, which hit the CNMI in October 2018.
According to its latest audit of the agency, the Office of the Public Auditor reported that the MVA’s revenue dropped by $3,311,692 in the year that ended on Sept. 30, 2019.
The report states that MVA’s revenue in 2018 and 2017, was at $15,631,684 (2018) and $15,585,733 (2017). However, its revenue significantly dropped by $3,311,692 in fiscal year 2019 to just $12,319,992.
As MVA explained it, the CNMI’s tourism industry took a hit in 2019 because of Super Typhoon Yutu that hit the CNMI in October 2018. In November 2019, the CNMI had only 5,595 visitors. When added to the visitor arrival numbers in the previous months, that only totaled up to 424,858 visitor arrivals, which is a 182,685 drop compared to fiscal year 2018’s 607,543 visitor arrivals.
Additionally, because of Super Typhoon Yutu, the cancellation of direct flights from Japan and the closures of Mariana Resort & Spa and Coral Ocean Point Resort were also factors that made it “a difficult year for the tourism industry for [fiscal year] 2019.”
Not only did they lose revenue, but the CNMI also lost visitor arrivals, which resulted in loss of jobs, loss of revenue for the central government, and hotel occupancy tax collections for MVA’s operations and marketing.
MVA added that at the government funding level, MVA’s balance in fiscal year 2019 decreased by $4,085,391, a result of nonpayment of MVA’s share in the hotel and occupancy tax.
As of Sept. 20, 2019, MVA reported that its investments in capital assets amount to $127,009, net of accumulated depreciation. Its depreciation expense for fiscal year 2019 was at $86,870.
The acquisition of capital assets for MVA’s operation this fiscal year amounts to $27,812. On Sept. 30, 2019, some of MVA’s fixed assets were retired and write-offs amounting to $794 were recorded.
MVA says it expects tourism in the Marianas will be different once travel activities are allowed to resume once the COVID-19 pandemic recedes. “The ‘new normal’ would involve enforced health security standards for both tourists and personnel and the rest of the community. While the industry adjusts to the ‘new normal,’ [MVA] will focus on attracting its key source markets back to the Marianas,” said MVA.
MVA said that its Destination Enhancement and Product Development division will continue “to define, launch, and maintain programs to enhance the Marianas as a tourist destination.” This includes evaluating the tourism-attraction value of current sites, monitoring and upgrading the content and upkeep of these existing sites, and increasing the number of sites.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated that this may not be an isolated event but a foreshadowing of a new future. The future effects of these issues are unknown,” said MVA.