Visitor arrivals up 8 pct. in Jan.
Highest monthly visitor arrivals in nearly 10 years
Marking the highest month of visitor arrivals since September 2005, January 2015 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands rose 8 percent compared to January 2014. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 45,688 visitors in January 2015, compared to 42,122 visitors received in January 2014.
Arrivals from Korea soared 53 percent in January to 21,145 visitors, the highest ever monthly visitor arrivals from Korea. Targeting the winter high season, Asiana Airlines operated additional flights to Saipan from Seoul four times a week beginning Dec. 2 using an Airbus A320 with 171 seats.
”The strong upward trend in Korean arrivals is expected to continue throughout the winter season with additional seats coming online. Jeju Air is planning to launch an additional daily flight to Saipan from Incheon from March 28 using a Boeing 737-800, which has 186 seats, bringing an additional 67,890 seats to the NMI in the first year,” said MVA managing director Perry Tenorio. “In addition, Jeju Air is also planning to open an FIT lounge on Saipan in March.”
Arrivals from China grew 12 percent in January to 13,933 visitors. An increase is also projected for February 2015, as almost all flights from China to the NMI are fully sold out during the Lunar New Year in the second half of February. By contrast, however, given perennial weak market demand right after Lunar New Year, the MVA plans to make advertising into the market from March to April.
Arrivals from Japan fell 34 percent to 8,310 visitors in January as Asiana’s suspension of Saipan services from Osaka for January to March impacted the Japan market very heavily with a 46-percent decrease in air seat supply in January. The priority for MVA is to identify new airlift from Japan to the CNMI in 2015 in order to stop the slide in Japanese arrivals.
Arrivals from Russia fell 63 percent to 425 visitors in January as a result of the suspension of direct flights in August. Russia’s economic instability and collapsing Russian ruble have caused a dramatic fall in demand for international travel from Russia. The MVA is actively working with local travel trade to support their sales of CNMI tours and is working with Asiana Airlines to provide airfare discounts for routes to the CNMI from Russia’s Far East.
Arrivals for the month included one ship arrival from Japan with 450 persons.
The Japanese government upgraded its view of industrial production in January 2015, and left its overall economic assessment of moderate recovery unchanged as the economy rebounds from an unexpected recession last year. During January, the yen appreciated slightly against the U.S. dollar to 118.55, up from 119.76 in December.
Major indicators in the Korean economy, such as mining and manufacturing production, retail sales and facility investment, are gradually improving and employment continues to rise. The South Korean won/dollar exchange rate rose 1.33 won over the past month to close at 1,098.06 against the U.S. dollar.
A Chinese Academy of Sciences think tank predicts the economy will develop steadily in 2015, with GDP expanding by an estimated 7.2 percent. The value of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, strengthened by 21 basis points to 6.1247 against the U.S. dollar in its central parity rate, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trading System. (MVA)