(MVA) — The first flights from Busan, South Korea,  to the Marianas since March 2020 at the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic are being supported by the Marianas Visitors Authority in its continuing work to rebuild the local tourism economy.

Three flights by Jeju Air will arrive in Saipan on Dec. 29, 2021, and Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, 2022.

“With the welcomed restoration of jobs at hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies,  as well as increased government  and business revenue we have seen since flights resumed from Seoul in July,  we  are now working with our industry partners  to try to reopen Busan,”  said MVA Managing Director Priscilla M. Iakopo.  “December and January are a key holiday  period, so this is an ideal time to attract more visitors,  especially those interested in golfing during the winter season.”

The first flight will include 30 media and travel agency representatives, whose firsthand experience in the Marianas  on the  familiarization or fam  tour will  help them  publicize  and sell the destination to other travelers form the Busan area.  Approximately 500 total visitors are expected on the three flights, which are being organized by Micronesia Resort Incorporated, which owns Kensington Hotel Saipan, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, and Coral Ocean Resort.

“The Marianas  has several advantages working in our favor, including our travel bubble agreement and our current exemption from the 10-day quarantine that all other travelers to Korea must undergo.  This makes us a prime choice for travel,” said Iakopo.  “At the same time, we are closely monitoring the  impact of  the Omicron variant on bookings  to the Marianas  and continuing to strategize on how best to deal with any necessary changes locally or in Korea caused by Covid.”

Under the Tourism Resumption  Investment  Plan,  MVA  and  its  tourism partners reopened the Seoul, Korea, market in July with three weekly flights operated by Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’Way.   The airlines are awaiting  approval from the South Korea government to each and an additional  flight to Saipan in January 2022, which would bring approximately 5,000 visitors per month.

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