To allow more time for promotion in South Korea, the Marianas Visitors Authority board of directors voted on Aug. 6, 2021, to extend the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan program through Dec. 31, 2021.
The program provides subsidies to airlines, hotels, travel agencies, and related businesses to help jumpstart tourism, the Marianas’ primary economic driver.
“The board has unanimously decided to extend the TRIP program with Korea through the end of the year to allow more time for travel agents to properly promote the Marianas,” said MVA board chair Viola Alepuyo. “With the end of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance only about four weeks away, we are pleased to see more businesses reopening and people returning to work because of the program. It’s really a light at the end of the tunnel for our community members who have been able to return to work because more businesses have reopened their doors. While most of the arriving passengers have been returning residents availing of the flights, we are extending the program so we can continue to slowly restore tourism through the end of the year.”
Started on July 24, 2021, the program supports weekly flights from Seoul-Incheon to Saipan by Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’Way Air. It also supports full operation of Pacific Islands Club Saipan as a hybrid quarantine resort, where all arriving TRIP passengers will first quarantine, and two corridor hotels—Kensington Hotel Saipan and Saipan World Resort—where passengers can stay after quarantine.
The MVA has written to the South Korea Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport to inform them of new safety protocols enacted on Aug. 10 due to the significant viral risk of the infectious spread of the COVID-19 delta variant. The CNMI COVID-19 Task Force has reinstated five-day mandatory quarantine for all arriving passengers regardless of vaccination status. Visitors under the TRIP program will quarantine at PIC, where they will have use of hotel facilities during quarantine. Upon completion of the fifth-day quarantine and another negative PCR test, the passengers will be allowed to stay at the two corridor hotels.
“Our first priority is to maintain community safety, and we are very confident with the protocols and guidelines established by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the COVID-19 Task Force. Second to that is for our businesses to reopen so our people can return to work and have a source of income to feed their families and pay their bills when PUA ends,” said Alepuyo. “MVA is in constant communication with CHCC and the COVID-19 Task Force to ensure all the necessary precautions are taken to protect our community. As long as we continue to respond proactively and quickly as the COVID situation changes, we anticipate the program to be a success in terms of community safety.”
In making its decision to provide more time for the TRIP program, the board also noted the growing number of vaccinations in South Korea, anticipated demand for travel during the Korean Chuseok holiday in September, and interest expressed by other airlines to fly to the Marianas based on demand. (PR)