The large drop in the number of people that has visited the CNMI this year compared to last year is worrisome for its ripple effects on the CNMI economy, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair Kimberlyn King-Hinds
To emphasize her point, she pointed out that there were 643,808 passengers who deplaned at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport at the end of last fiscal year. In contrast, for this year’s fiscal year so far, there were only 237,269 deplaned passengers—those who arrived within October 2018 and April 2019.
“We are not even halfway there. And we have [only three months] left in the remainder of the fiscal year,” she added.
“I think this is a good narrative to show [the difference] between last year and this year,” she added.
King-Hinds said this substantial decrease in terms of the number of people who are arriving on the island will have a ripple effect on the CNMI economy.
Citing the importance for the people to understand the CNMI’s economy today and the lingering impact of Super Typhoon Yutu, King-Hinds said the CPA numbers mean less people are coming in, buying in stores, sitting in restaurants, availing of tourist activities, and staying in hotels.
This means less hotel occupancy taxes and business gross taxes being collected, she added.
King-Hinds pointed out that it takes quite a while for an economy to recover, especially when dealing with the tourism industry and there’s a massive interruption as a result of the catastrophic Category 5 typhoon like Yutu.
Although the arrival numbers are improving steadily, there remains a big difference in the trend this year as compared to last year’s, she said.
King-Hinds said noted that, in April alone, there were 52,000 deplaned passengers last year compared to 42,000 this year.
“That’s 10,000 [fewer people] coming in. That has a ripple effect to the economy,” she said.