MVA: Arrivals down 30% in February

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(MVA) — According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to Saipan, Tinian and Rota dropped 30 percent to 26,702 visitors in February 2020, compared to 38,049 visitors received in February 2019.

Arrivals from China, the Marianas’ second largest source market, dropped from about 20,000 arrivals last February to only 60 arrivals in February 2020 due to the voluntary suspension of direct flights from China beginning Feb. 1 as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19, which is causing worldwide travel to decrease.

Arrivals from Korea grew 28 percent year-on-year in January 2020 to 19,600. However, with the increase in COvid-19 cases in the country and travel fears, many travelers are hesitant to travel to any destination. MVA and Gov. Ralph DLG Torres met with major Korea tourism partners in late February to offer co-op incentives to buoy the market.

Meanwhile, visitor arrivals from Japan more than tripled, growing 331 percent to 4,238 visitors in February as the result of daily, direct flights launched by Skymark Airlines in November from Tokyo-Narita to Saipan. Skymark is offering promotional rates starting at $38 one way plus fuel surcharge. While arrivals were strong in February, tourism officials are cautious on the outlook for March and the months ahead.

One ship arrival on Feb. 7, the USS Bunker, had 356 passengers.

Source markets economic highlights

The tourism industry in China been significantly affected by Covid-19. Travel demand weakened, as travelers canceled travel plans and opted to stay home to avoid crowds. It is projected that the tourism market will contract, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions will also be postponed or canceled. It is also expected that public fear will continue even after the epidemic is under control, and the desire to travel will stay low.

Japan’s consumer price inflation edged down to 0.7 percent year-on-year in January 2020 from an eight-month high of 0.8 percent in the previous month. On Feb. 22, the U.S. State Department called for “increased caution” when traveling to Japan, escalating the alert to level 2 on the four-level advisory scale amid reports that a new Coronavirus is spreading in Japan via unknown infection routes. The previous advisory at level 1 called on citizens to exercise “normal precautions” in Japan. As for China, the travel advisory has been raised to the highest level of 4, which urges citizens not to travel to the country.

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