Staying coronavirus-free will help NMI tourism survive, says hotel official

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IF the CNMI will continue to have no cases of the novel coronavirus, the local tourism industry may “survive,” Hotel Association of the NMI chairwoman and Pacific Islands Club general manager Gloria Cavanagh said.

Marianas Visitors Authority marketing manager Thomas Kim makes a PowerPoint presentation during the Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Kanoa Resort on Wednesday.  Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

The loss of the China market due to the novel coronavirus outbreak is a “huge loss” for hotels that rely on Chinese tourists, she said, adding that the CNMI must now boost its promotions in its two other major markets — South Korea and Japan.

She recognized that China market is a huge loss for other hotels that heavily rely on Chinese tourists.

In his PowerPoint presentation at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday, Marianas Visitors Authority marketing manager Thomas Kim said the projected arrivals from China in fiscal year 2020 is expected to go down from 167,103 to 50,200 during an eight-month suspension of flights.

But he said the projected arrivals from Korea (303,754) and Japan (47,862) will remain unchanged.

Cavanagh noted, however, that the Koreans “are not traveling because they are scared. We started getting cancelations on Jan. 26. They’re like, ‘Oh you accept Chinese, so I am not going to go there.”

But with the suspensions of flights from China, travelers from Korea, Japan and other countries will realize that the islands are novel-coronavirus-free.

“So we are hoping that we are able to turn this around and that arrivals from the other two markets will increase,” she said referring to Korea and Japan.

On Capital Hill, House Committee on Commerce and Tourism Chairman Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero told his colleagues in the meeting that “we should be thankful we still have flights from Japan, but if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse, even tourists from Japan and Korea will be afraid to travel anywhere.”

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Priscilla Iakopo, for her part, said in light of the current situation, MVA has revised the marketing proposals for its promotional and marketing offices in Japan and South Korea.

Tourism is the CNMI’s only industry.

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