With tourism in the CNMI having officially resumed, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla Iakopo said the CNMI’s Travel Bubble arrangement with South Korea is now hitting its stride, with three flights from South Korea per week: one T’Way Air flight every Thursday and one Jeju Air and one Asiana Airlines flight on Saturdays.
Iakopo also assured that Travel Bubble visitors will have to either show a negative PCR COVID-19 test, or proof that they are fully vaccinated. Upon arrival, they have to stay for about a week at the Pacific Islands Club Saipan. Then they will have the option of staying at either Saipan World Resort or Kensington Hotel Saipan.
When asked who arranges the itineraries for these visitors, Iakopo said the planning is done through travel agencies, and that all of Saipan’s tourist spots are “open for everybody.”
“[The tourists] have the option to purchase activities, whether it’s going to Managaha or doing sightseeing tours, or even going to Tinian and Rota. It’s open for everybody, all our sites are open, same for Tinian and Rota as well,” said Iakopo.
When asked if MVA has received any feedback from Korean visitors about their stay in the CNMI, Iakopo said that two officials from Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation recently visited the CNMI to “do a site inspection to ensure that what we have presented in Korea is what is actually happening here in the CNMI.” Iakopo said the two officials were very impressed with the CNMI’s COVID-19 safety protocols, and said that they will visit again, next time around with their families.
According to Iakopo, the remainder of the initial batch of Korean visitors as part of the Familiarization Tour have already flown back to South Korea but, before doing that, a part of the group visited Tinian and Rota, experienced the two islands’ culture and food, and formed connections with its residents.
“They had very nice hospitality from the islands of Tinian and Rota, and got to experience how life is there, the culture, a spread of delicacies, and [had] one-on-one conversations with our local people,” said Iakopo. A batch of 40-plus influencers and media personnel flew into Saipan last July 17 as part of MVA’s initial Familiarization Tour.