NMI tourism takes a direct hit

‘Full effect of devastation has yet to be seen’

The stand at the Point Break facility of the Pacific Islands Club collapsed due to powerful winds of Super Typhoon Yutu. Other hotels in the southern part of Saipan suffered major damage. (Ferdie De La Torre)

The primary—and only—driver of the CNMI economic engine, the tourism industry, took a direct hit from the disaster wrought by Super Typhoon Yutu.

All hotels suffered some damage, but the ones in the southern part of Saipan sustained extensive destruction.

The damage is so bad that its full effect on the tourism industry has yet to be seen, according to Christopher A. Concepcion, the Marianas Visitors Authority managing director.

Concepcion said hotels in the south of the island like the Coral Ocean Golf Resort in Koblerville and the Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio experienced widespread damage.

At PIC, the Point Break facility collapsed due to powerful winds. Other facilities also had severe damage.

Concepcion said LaoLao Bay Golf & Resort also suffered some damage but not as significant as Coral Ocean Point Golf Resort.

Concepcion said the Aqua Resort Club and Kensington Hotel had some minor damage.

“We have yet to hear from other major hotels,” he said over the weekend.

The MVA office itself in San Jose had extensive flooding but Concepcion said they were set to resume normal operations yesterday to allow the tourism industry to regain some sense of normalcy in all this chaos.

He said Sunday’s partial re-opening of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport for outbound passengers will help relieve the situation.

“The airport is such a critical piece of infrastructure, so getting it up and running is absolutely essential for recovery to take place,” Concepcion said.

He said all tourist sites on Saipan and Tinian sustained damage. “A full assessment is ongoing at this time,” he said.

For now, Concepcion said, they want to reassure visitors that the CNMI government and its partners are doing everything in their power to assist tourists and residents alike.

He encouraged visitors planning to travel to the CNMI to contract their travel agent, hotel, or airline for updated information.

The MVA has begun an informational campaign in their major source markets of Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Russia to keep the market informed of what’s happening and what to expect.

“Our aim is to minimize panic in the market. At some point soon, the tourism industry must continue to move forward as this is the economic engine of the CNMI,” Concepcion said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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