(MVA) — February 2015 visitor arrivals to the Northern Mariana Islands rose 4 percent compared to February 2014. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, arrivals to the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota registered 42,921visitors in February 2015, compared to 41,311 visitors received in February 2014.
Arrivals from South Korea soared 22 percent in February to 13,536 visitors. Jeju Air is planning to launch an additional daily flight to Saipan from Incheon from March 29 using a Boeing 737-800 with 186 seats, bringing an additional 67,890 seats to the NMI and ensuring extremely rapid growth in Korean arrivals for the remainder of this year.
Arrivals from China also soared 24 percent in February to 18,905 visitors due to the 7- day Lunar New Year holiday in February. Almost all flights from China to the NMI were fully sold out long before the holiday. National television network CCTV-5 also broadcast a major nationwide reality show “Is It Possible in 7 Days?” which chose Saipan as the subject of its “Is It Possible to Learn Diving in 7 Days?” program. The resulting three-part, 135-minute network television feature was broadcast in February, which significantly boost visibility for the NMI among target Chinese travelers.
Arrivals from Japan fell 24 percent to 8,485 visitors in February as Asiana Airlines’ suspension of Saipan services from Osaka for January to March impacted the Japan market very heavily, resulting in a 43.2 percent decrease in air sea supply in February. In addition, major Japanese travel agencies were unable to secure hotel rooms over the Lunar New Year period due to the rapid increase in Chinese arrivals and were hesitant to launch promotions during the February period given the lack of hotel rooms. MVA launched a variety of campaigns in February targeting the summer market. including the Happy Children in Paradise campaign; the new International Festival of Cultures campaign; participating in the Japan Golf Fair to continue to position the NMI as a world-class golf destination; bringing a leading Japanese dive media outlet to the NMI in February to feature Saipan, Tinian and Rota as world-class dive destinations for Japanese divers; and finalizing plans with Asiana to send five charter flights to the NMI in August.
Arrivals from Russia fell 90 percent to 110 visitors in February as a result of the suspension of direct flights in August. The MVA is launching discount campaigns to the NMI from Far East Russia throughout summer 2015 to being rebuilding the Russian market in the face of severe economic pressures.