The Marianas Visitors Authority held a series of meetings last week with key travel partners in Japan to reaffirm cooperation in anticipation of resumed direct flight service between Tokyo and Saipan by United Airlines beginning Sept. 1, 2022.
On July 6, the MVA delegation led by board chair Viola Alepuyo met with president Tadashi Shimura and other representatives of the Japan Association of Travel Agents to discuss strategies to reboot the Japan market, which has been dormant since the beginning of the pandemic. Shimura expressed JATA’s appreciation for the support being extended by the MVA, including free PCR tests for Japanese before embarkation back to Japan and other incentives that were unveiled at Friday’s (July 8) Marianas Seminar & Webinar in Tokyo.
“Our sales meetings last week were extremely positive,” said Alepuyo. “There is a lot of support from our travel partners, who agree that now is the right time to begin opening Japan. Although we cannot meet with everyone in person, as we normally do, JATA agreed that the Marianas Seminar & Webinar held last Friday would be a very good way to release information to travel agents about the Saipan-Narita direct flights. Japan’s entry quota is currently at 20,000 per day, so this will be a challenge for the Japanese market. However, there is expectation that the Japanese government will increase this number. We are grateful for the support and we are optimistic about the relaunch and gradual rebuilding of the Japan market under the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan.”
The MVA provided JATA with an update on hotel room availability and recent renovations of hotel properties in the Marianas. JATA also inquired about interisland travel for those travelers interested in venturing beyond Saipan, should the duration of their visit allow. The MVA also shared about the recently completed Pacific Mini Games and the facilities that have been newly renovated, creating more opportunity for sports tourism, including training camps.
Director Masahiko Inada of the JATA Outbound Travel Promotion Division expressed hope that with Japan’s lessening restrictions, there will now be more interest for travel to the Marianas.
The MVA delegation included MVA vice chair Gloria Cavanagh, TRIP chair and MVA board member Ivan Quichocho, TRIP Japan chair and MVA board member Masaru Sunaga, MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo, MVA Japan in-country manager Takashi Ichikura, MVA procurement officer Lenette Maratita, MVA marketing specialist Brenda Repeki, and MVA Japan sales manager Kyoko Okabe.
On July 5 the MVA met with president Makoto Kawasaki of Geo Graphics, the company assisting the MVA in developing a global brand that will set the Marianas apart as a preferred tourist destination. The MVA delegation also paid a courtesy call during the week to the U.S. Embassy in Japan and met with leadership from HIS, one of the top travel agencies in Japan.
United Airlines will fly three weekly flights departing Tokyo-Narita International Airport at 9:25pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays and arriving on Saipan one day later at 2am. Flights from Saipan will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 7am and arrive in Narita at 9:35am. (MVA)