Visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands continue to rise in March, up 5 percent compared to the same month last year. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 42,539 visitors in March 2015, compared to 40,613 visitors received in March 2014.
Arrivals from Korea soared 40 percent to 14,989 visitors. Jeju Air launched an additional daily flight to Saipan from Incheon beginning March 29 using a Boeing 737-800 with 186 seats, bringing an additional 67,890 annual seats to the NMI and ensuring extremely rapid growth in Korean arrivals for the rest of the year. Jeju Air also opened its FIT lounge in Garapan on March 25, providing various services for the rapidly growing number of FIT passengers that it carries.
Arrivals from China also soared 31 percent in March to 16,246 visitors. To stimulate soft market demand after Chinese New Year in February, the MVA launched a variety of outdoor advertising campaigns in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu in support of China charter flights. The MVA also joined with Tinian Dynasty Holiday and Century Tours to host a series of promotional events in second-tier cities of China to promote the tourism resources of Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
With a 51-percent decrease in air seat supply from Japan to the NMI in March, arrivals from Japan fell 34 percent to 8,808 visitors. Seasonal suspension by Asiana Airlines’ of its flights from Osaka to the NMI for January to March impacted the Japan market heavily. Delta Air Lines also flew a reduced schedule of 12 flights a week in March from Narita to the NMI. As a result, load factors on all Japan flights to the NMI exceeded 95 percent on average for all Japan flights during the month of March with 8,808 Japanese able to secure one of just 9,222 seats available. The MVA’s Japan airlift development manager has been meeting aggressively with all LCCs to seek the launch of new services to the NMI, while the MVA’s Japan Ad Hoc Committee is actively seeking to secure more charter flights from Japan to the NMI.
Arrivals from Russia fell 80 percent to 314 visitors in March as a result of the suspension of direct flights in August. The MVA is launching discount campaigns to the NMI from Far East Russia throughout summer 2015 to begin rebuilding the Russian market in the face of severe economic pressures and has been arranging multiple media campaigns to increase recognition of the destination targeting higher-income market segments that have not been as affected by Russia’s severe recession.
Meanwhile, the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported 83.75 percent occupancy among its 11 member hotels for March 2015, a 3-percent drop compared to March 2014. By comparison, room rates rose 7 percent to $124.42 during the month, compared to $116.57 last March. (MVA)