Torres says more tourists, airlines coming

Work ongoing to bring back Japanese tourists

With more tourists coming to the CNMI in the next few months and more airlines wanting to add Saipan to their routes, the administration, through the Marianas Visitors Authority, is now working on bringing back Japanese tourists, said Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres Friday.

In response to questions during his regular radio briefing, Torres said they are seeing the number of tourists go up, especially in the next two months and into January 2022, mostly because the CNMI remains safe from COVID-19.

He said they are seeing more airlines coming in and wanting to add Saipan as their additional destination.

“Now we’re communicating with Japan,” the governor said.

Torres said things are getting much better in terms with the Travel Bubble program. “That what’s going to bring back the economy and those folks that do not have jobs,” he said.

Torres said the difference between what they signed with South Korea on the Travel Bubble program is because of Korea’s low number of COVID-19 cases. “There’s reciprocity in that agreement,” he said.

In order for the CNMI’s Travel Bubble to work as well with Japan, Torres said they need to be more specific on what kind of travel arrangements are agreeable to both Japan and the CNMI. “At the end of the day, they know we’re safe. We want them to come,” Torres said.

MVA board chair Viola Alepuyo recently disclosed that Japanese golfers are starting to show an interest in returning to Saipan after over a year of absence as a result of the pandemic.

MVA’s Tourism Resumption Program Korea chair Ivan Quichocho also recently disclosed that discussions are ongoing between MVA’s Japan partners and TRIP Japan chair Nick Nishikawa on how to approach a Travel Bubble-type program between Saipan and Japan.

Torres cited that the recent signing between the Department of Public Lands and Hyatt Regency Saipan for a new 40-year land lease was a strong statement to the CNMI’s Japan market, Japan businesses.

“You see that partnership that we value, long-term partnerships here with our business partners. And we want them for the next 40 years. I look forward to capitalizing on those relationship and friendship,” Torres said.

Torres said they have been pushing hard in bringing back the CNMI’s tourism market primarily to improve the economy and thereby create jobs. He said in trying to bring in tourists, they also need to stabilize the CNMI’s healthcare system.

The governor said if the CNMI is battling COVID itself and considering the CNMI’s available resources, the chance to bring in tourists would be an additional burden. He said he is just very blessed to have good first responders and a cooperative community. He said one way to revive the CNMI’s tourism industry is for the people continue practicing social distancing as much as they can.

“When you go into the store, wear masks. When you go to restaurants wear masks,” the governor said.

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
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