Visitor arrivals to the Marianas dipped 2 percent in March 2018 compared to March 2017. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 53,714 visitors in March 2018, compared to 54,841 visitors in March 2017.
Arrivals from Korea dropped 13 percent to 25.081 visitors, yet the country retained its position as the top performing source market. This decline is largely due to the suspension of the Incheon-Saipan service by Eastar Jet and Busan-Saipan service by Asiana Airlines since October 2017. Jin Air has also temporarily suspended its Incheon-Saipan service until October 2018 but is considering possibilities to operate chartered flights from Korea to Saipan.
Arrivals from China grew 16 percent compared to March 2017 to 19,856 visitors. The MVA’s aggressive marketing tactics are the main contributor to the continued increase in arrivals from China. Steady airlift from four cities is a key factor that will continue to help maintain and boost arrivals from this large market. MVA efforts over four months with Brighten Travel, Century Tours, Zhejiang New World, SPITS, Hong Kong Express and media to promote the 2018 Saipan Marathon culminated in March with extensive exposure among sports and marathon fans and 232 runners from China, a significantly larger number than the 2017 race.
Arrivals from Japan posted a second consecutive month of growth, inching 2 percent higher than March 2017 at 5,004 visitors. An increase of 22 additional seats daily since November 2017 and continued strong marketing has contributed to the overall increase in arrivals.
“An announcement is expected imminently on which airline will launch regular scheduled service from Japan,” said MVA managing director Christopher A. Concepcion. “Talks are ongoing with other airlines to launch direct flights from other cities in Japan.”
According to central bank data in South Korea, foreign currency deposits at banks dropped for the second straight month in February as the U.S. dollar strengthened.
The average USD/won exchange rate in March was 1,070.38 won, a slight decrease from the previous rate of 1,080.07 won in February.
In China, the Consumer Price Index of February 2018 saw an increase of 2.9 percent compared to 2017. This shows an uptick in inflation but is still well within healthy economic guidelines. Currency exchange was influenced at the end of the month due to the much- publicized trade war between the US and China. The Yuan now shows signs of strengthening.
Economic growth momentum in Japan from 2017 appears to have partially carried over into Q1 of this year. Monthly average rate for U.S. dollar to Japanese yen exchange in January 2018 was 107.98, compared to 111.07 in January 2018. (PR)