The Travel Bubble—a dedicated travel corridor that will facilitate tourism travel between South Korea and the CNMI that has been in the works for many months now—will finally bring in its first batch of participants this Saturday.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla Iakopo said the CNMI expects to see two flights on July 24 carrying the first batch of Travel Bubble participants. The next flight after that is expected on July 29.
“We are still targeting July 24. …We’re expecting to have two flights and then, on July 29, we’ll have another flight,” she said.
Iakopo said that, as of last Saturday, close to 60 participants have already confirmed their participation in the CNMI Travel Bubble. Three South Korean airlines have been approved for the Travel Bubble: Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’way Air.
“From what I know, we have been told that there are already confirmed passengers for these flights. I don’t have the exact number, but I believe we have close to 60 at this point. These will be our first actual international visitors since COVID-19,” she said.
Although the CNMI welcomed a group visitors last weekend, they were paid for by MVA as part of a Familiarization Tour—or FAM tour—to promote the CNMI’s travel bubble on social media platforms and media sites in South Korea.
This group of incoming Travel Bubble participants are tourist who are paying to visit the CNMI on their own.
According to Iakopo, MVA helped organize the FAM Tour. They were flown in by a chartered Asiana Airlines flight. MVA had set aside a budget of $460,000 for the airlines, hotels, sights and tours, and to also have these visitors visit the islands of Rota and Tinian.
Iakopo said the over 40 FAM Tour participants will stay for as long as 14 days to experience what the CNMI has to offer and, in turn, share their experiences with their respective media platforms to entice more people to jump on CNMI’s Travel Bubble.
“They will be quarantined at [Pacific Islands Club] for the first five days and after [after passing the CNMI’s COVID-19 test], they will be staying at Kensington Hotel. These participants will be here for at least seven days, the majority will be here for 14 days to give them an opportunity to experience the islands of Rota and Tinian,” she said.