Visitor arrivals in the CNMI reached a total of 39,663 in April 2019 compared to 49,198 in April 2018.
Although the figure is 19-percent lower than April 2018, it is also the strongest monthly performance since Super Typhoon Yutu hit the Marianas in October 2018, according to the Marianas Visitors Authority.
With the resumption of T’way Air on Mar. 31, South Korea regained its position as the top- performing source market for the Marianas with 17,182 visitors, a 22-percent decrease compared to April 2018 but still the country’s strongest month since Yutu.
The decline is due to the downsizing of Asiana Airlines’ aircraft and the decreased frequency of Jeju Air flights from Busan to Saipan.
Arrivals from China were 13 percent off last year’s mark at 17,182 visitors in April. The travel season between Lunar New Year and Labor Day in early May is traditionally weak, and the China market is also facing a rising renminbi-U.S. dollar exchange rate as a result of U.S.-China tensions. Package prices to the Marianas in April 2019 were lower than last year, especially in the Hangzhou and Guangzhou markets, but sales were only moderate as the actual travel cost in the Marianas was higher than usual.
Japan posted 2,313 visitors for the month, 50-percent lower than April 2018 when daily direct flights operated between Narita and Saipan. The April figures included two cruise ship arrivals carrying a combined 932 passengers and four charter flights from Japan by Skymark Airlines during Japan’s Golden Week holiday. The airline is also slated to start regular daily flights in July 2019, marking a much-anticipated turnaround for the once-dominant market.
South Korea’s economy unexpectedly shrunk in the first quarter due to a drop in capital investment and falling exports. The result is the lowest growth since the fourth quarter of 2008, when Asia’s fourth-largest economy contracted by 3.3 percent.
The Korea Tourism Organization reported that the number of Korean overseas travelers was up 6.1 percent year on year, reaching 2.33 million in March 2019. The average U.S. dollar/won exchange rate in April was 1137.12 won, a slight increase from the previous rate of 1095.24 won in March.
China’s latest macroeconomic data released in April was generally worse than expected, with consumption growth hitting its lowest point in 16 years. China’s real economy seems to be weakening, and pressure for China’s economic growth to slow down is growing. However, even with a slight decline in economic growth, China’s outbound tourism boom has shown no signs of any reduction, and the number of outbound tourists continues to grow steadily.
Japan National Tourism Organization reported that the number of Japanese overseas travelers was up 6.8 percent year on year, reaching 1.93 million in March 2019, approximately 120,000 more travelers than a year earlier.
The Bank of Japan left its key short-term interest rate unchanged at -0.1 percent at its April meeting. (MVA)