Arrivals to the Northern Marianas increased 95% to 52,297 visitors in December 2019, compared to 26,831 visitors received in December 2018, based on the latest numbers of the Marianas Visitors Authority.
According to the MVA, visitor arrivals in December 2018 were low due to the residual reduction in air service following Super Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.
Arrivals from Korea grew 372% year-on-year in December 2019 to 33,648, higher than even December 2017 (29,092 visitor arrivals). T’Way Air began a second daily daytime flights from Seoul, Incheon to Saipan on Nov. 21, 2019, which will continue through late March 2020. On Jan. 1, 2020, Asiana Airlines upgraded their aircraft service from Seoul, Incheon to A330 equipment with 298 seats, also continuing through late March 2020.
Arrivals from China decreased 37% to 9,974 visitors in December. In December, the number of available air seats between China and the Marianas dropped 40% compared to December 2017. Charter flights from Shanghai were reduced from four to two flights per week, and flights from Guangzhou were temporarily suspended beginning Dec 2. Flights from Hong Kong by Hong Kong Airlines also remain suspended. China outbound travel to the U.S. has been dampened by the trade war with U.S. The market is also suffering from continued tension in Hong Kong, a tightened parole policy visa-free travel to the Marianas for Chinese tourists, and a continuing high exchange rate.
Visitor arrivals from Japan grew 448% to 5,165 visitors in December on the wings of daily, direct flights launched by Skymark Airlines on Nov. 29 from Tokyo-Narita to Saipan. Skymark is offering promotional rates starting at $38 one way plus fuel surcharge. Approximately 40,000 visitors are expected from Japan in fiscal year 2020, based on 80% load factor on scheduled flights; this compares to 12,000 visitors from the source market in fiscal year 2019.
The MS Asuka II also berthed in Saipan on Dec. 31, 2019, with 857 passengers.
In November 2019, the consumer price index in China went up by 4.5% year-on-year. The overall outbound travel industry in China is preparing for its annual pinnacle, from just about one week prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations this month, with a lingering effect of up to two weeks afterwards.
Japan’s consumer price inflation rose to 0.5% year-on-year in November 2019 from 0.2% in the previous month. (PR)