According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota totaled 32,295 in March 2019 compared to 53,714 in March 2018, led by a downward tick in the Korean market on the slowdown of the country’s economy.
Arrivals from Korea, which had been showing steady recovery since Super Typhoon Yutu, marked 13,370 visitors in March, a 47-percent decline compared to March 2018.
Arrivals from China showed the same reduced trend as the previous month, marking a 17-percent decline to 16, 558 visitors due to a weak domestic economy and residual impact from the typhoon. In addition, March is the traditional low season after the Chinese Spring Festival holiday in February.
Facing the off-season, the MVA is continuing aggressive promotions to rebuild tourists and travel industry’s confidence in the Marianas. Other than first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong, the MVA has expanded its activities by participating in the 2019 Xi’an Silk Road International Tourism Expo to further its exploration in the Northwest China market, as well as Marianas Roadshow in Shandong province in early April.
Visitors arrivals from Japan were down at 59 percent, or 2,071 visitors. However, Skymark Airlines has commenced direct flights from Tokyo to the Marianas, making a strong start in reversing the downward turn of the market since Delta Air Lines ceased the direct service in May 2018.
Skymark flew in six charters from March 22 to 27, 2019, and has four additional charters being planned for Japan’s Golden Week holiday period, arriving on Saipan on April 27-30. The airline is also slated to start regular daily flights in July 2019, marking a much-anticipated turnaround for the once-dominant market.
“As always, the tourism industry is being influenced by the national economies in our source markets, and the reality is [that] Korea and China are soft at this time, so people are travelling less,” said acting MVA managing director Judy Torres. “The [start] of Skymark Airlines [flights] is a light on the horizon for Marianas tourism, and we are working diligently without our available funding to provide the necessary promotions and marketing to support the launch of regular daily service from Tokyo this summer. Having Japan back as a major source market is vital to ensure the stability of and to improve our Marianas tourism economy.”
The International Monetary Fund reported that South Korea’s economy will achieve 2.6- 2.7 percent growth in 2019 if the government maintains expansionary fiscal policies to support growth. The average US dollar/won exchange rate in March was 1095.24 won, a slight decrease from the previous rate of 1122.30 won in February
According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the number of outbound tourists among Chinese citizens was 149.72 million in 2018, an increase of 14.7 percent over the previous year.
Japan’s consumer price inflation stood at 0.2 percent year-on-year in February 2019, unchanged from the previous month’s 15-month low and below market expectations of 0.3 percent. Japan National Tourism Organization reported that the number of Japanese overseas travelers was up 10.4 percent year on year, reaching 1,534,800 in February 2019, approximately 140,000 more travelers than a year earlier. (MVA)