Visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands in May were up 22 percent compared to the same period last year.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 39,955 visitors in May 2015, compared to 32,797 visitors received in May 2014.
Arrivals from Korea catapulted 79 percent in May to 16,237 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 remainder of this year.
Asiana Airlines, on the other hand, temporarily suspended its morning flight OZ623 from May 28 due to a shortage of planes, and during the temporary suspension will be rotating in a jumbo jet Boeing 747 with 359 seats to operate four times a week in an effort to maintain its seat supply from Korea to the maximum extent possible during the temporary suspension.
Arrivals from China also jumped 14 percent in May to 15,198 visitors. The MVA continues to work hand in hand with Century Tours and Tinian Dynasty with a joint NMI booth at World Travel Fair in Shanghai from May 7 to 9. The MVA has also invited various Chinese media including print publications and network TV programs to the NMI in May to promote the unique tourism resources on Saipan, Tinian and Rota, especially highlighting the Taste of the Marianas throughout China.
Arrivals from Japan fell 9 percent to 6,487 visitors on the back of an 11-percent decrease in airlift from Japan in May 2015 versus May 2014. A senior delegation from the CNMI led by Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres and Rep. Joseph “Lee Pan” Guerrero, and MVA chair Marian Aldan-Pierce met with Delta Air Lines and major Japanese travel agents in May to push for the continuation of Delta night flights from Narita in 2016. In addition, the MVA is in active negotiations with a low-cost airline to launch direct non-stop service from Osaka to the CNMI this year. Based on these and other developments in the Japan market, the MVA projects that Japanese arrivals will bottom out this summer, and begin to rise once again from the fall.
Arrivals from Russia fell 80 percent to 189 visitors in May as a result of the suspension of direct flights last year. The MVA has launched 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 launched a campaign providing incentives to travel agents who book hotels in the Northern Marianas. (MVA)