NMI delegation heads to South Korea to sign travel bubble deal


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres will lead a delegation that heads today, Monday, to South Korea to sign a travel bubble agreement that is key to the CNMI’s efforts to jumpstart its economy by opening its doors to South Korean tourists under its pilot Tourism Resumption Investment Program.

In response to Saipan Tribune’s inquiry, Torres disclosed yesterday that he and the delegation will meet with officials of South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation to sign the travel bubble agreement this Wednesday, June 30.

The governor said they will also go to the Korea Center of Disease Control Agency and conduct site visits.

Separately, they will also have meetings with airlines and top travel agencies, he added.

Torres said he and Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, along with the Marianas Visitors Authority, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., COVID-19 Task Force, and business partners continue to seek solutions to bring back the CNMI’s tourism market.

“We are fortunate [to have] a strong partnership with [the] South Korean government. You [may] recall, we got 60,000 Solgent COVID-19 test kits [from South Korea] at a time when it was almost impossible to get [them anywhere else],” the governor said.

MVA board chair Viola Alepuyo said yesterday that the CNMI, with the leadership of Torres and Palacios, the COVID-19 Task Force, along with every front-line worker, and the community as a whole, have worked very hard to make the CNMI a safe place for people.

Because of this, Alepuyo said, the CNMI has been selected to sign the agreement with the South Korean government to initiate the travel bubble between the CNMI and South Korea.

“This agreement is crucial to the success of the Tourism Resumption Investment Program which will, in turn, provide jobs for our people,” the MVA chair said.

The first flight from Incheon to Saipan is scheduled to fly next month, July.

MVA said a familiarization tour is still expected to come in the first weeks of July and that they are expecting 50 people from top management of travel agencies, media, and social media influencers.

Aside from Torres and Alepuyo, Saipan Tribune learned from MVA that the other delegation members who are heading to South Korea are Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers members/businessmen Brian Shin and Tommy Kim, COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez, MVA board director Ivan Quichocho, MVA managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo, and MVA marketing manager Tatiana Babauta.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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