Visitors arrivals to the CNMI dropped 12 percent in March 2016 compared to March 2015.
According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota registered 37,317 visitors in March 2016, compared to 42,539 visitors received in March 2015. Overall this fiscal year, visitor arrivals are essentially unchanged compared to the same period last fiscal year.
Arrivals from China dropped 5 percent compared to March 2015 to 15,462 visitors, as China’s outbound tourism market enters the low season. The MVA’s team in China is working with travel partners to carry out a wide range of marketing programs including celebrity shooting FAM, a major social media promotion and a Saipan Marathon campaign to boost the destination exposure and stimulate shoulder season demand.
Arrivals from Korea dropped 15 percent in March to 12,743 visitors. Due to the long holiday period in February with Lunar New Year’s holiday, outbound travel demand was slow in March. Asiana Airlines decreased its double daily service to one daily in late March and is expected to go back to double daily service for Incheon-Saipan in the summer high season. On the other hand, the MVA has been working with Jin Air and EASTAR JET, Korea’s major low cost carriers, on the launch of new daily services to Saipan this summer. The MVA and Jin Air began conducting major online promotions together from mid-March to announce Jin Air’s new service from June 9 and to boost advance ticket sales.
Arrivals from Japan fell 28 percent to 6,352 visitors as the NMI continued to feel the effect of Delta Air Lines cutting its Narita to Saipan night flight in October, a move that dropped airlift from the Japan market to just one daily flight, generating 6,169 monthly seats. With 6,352 visitors from Japan flying on 6,169 available seats, the Delta flights were almost entirely full, and Asiana Airlines operated three charter flights from Narita to Saipan on March 25, 28 and 31, which generated an additional 513 seats in conjunction with JTB World Vacations in order to relieve some of the pent-up demand which is not being met by Delta Air Lines’ current single flight.
Japan’s government lowered its assessment of the economy in March for the first time in five months due to weakness in consumer spending, a move likely to reinforce views that more fiscal stimulus will be needed to keep the economy growing. In March 2016, the yen continued to grow in value against the U.S. dollar for the fifth month in a row, to average 113.01 yen for the month. The Korean government recently struck an upbeat tone in its outlook for the country’s economy, but it was at odds with what many economists believe is a stance not backed by solid evidence. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance forecast in its latest economic assessment report that Korea’s industrial output and domestic demand, which have been sluggish for months, will show a slight recovery later this year. The average USD/WON exchange rate in February was 1,141.95 won, 94.99 won down from the February rate of 1,235.94 won.