(MVA) —   With  last month’s  decision  of the Marianas Visitors Authority’s to extend the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan or TRIP program with South Korea  through  December,  travel  agencies  and  airlines  are  seeing  a  gradual  uptick  in bookings in coming months.

The  program  is  an  investment  to  help  jumpstart  tourism,  the  Marianas’  primary economic driver.   Since the launch of the TRIP program, over 1,000 bookings have been made, including an increase in bookings to Tinian and Rota.  In addition, bookings have been for seven or more nights, much longer than the average four nights prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the only destination with a travel bubble with South Korea, the Marianas has tremendous opportunity to capitalize on outbound travel demand in the country,” said MVA Board Chairwoman Viola Alepuyo.

“Based on  recent discussions with travel agents and airlines in Korea, we are very optimistic about the forecast of the TRIP program through December,” she added.

 “With the additional time provided for the program, as well as a firm decision by the Covid-19 Task Force to continue the 5-day quarantine for TRIP participants through December, our travel partners now have sufficient time and the necessary details to confidently develop and sell packages for the coming months to their customers.  The TRIP program has helped businesses  reopen  and  put  more  people  back  to  work,  steps  that  are  needed  to  reboot  the  economy, especially now with the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance ending.  We continue to aim for a slow but gradual recovery of the Korea market,” Alepuyo said.

MVA Managing Director Priscilla Maratita Iakopo said MVA will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth  Healthcare Corp. and  the Governor’s Covid-10  Task  Force on  all aspects of the program to help ensure community protection.

“We remain grateful to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and Covid-19 Task Force in setting policies that are keeping our community safe, and we acknowledge the hard work of our frontline workers and the continued cooperation of our community in  support of those policies,” said Iakopo.  

“In the long term, the Marianas will continue to benefit from this Tourism Resumption Investment Plan with  stimulation of the economy through the revitalization of the tourism industry, travelers’ confidence in travel to the Marianas regained, and increased overall destination exposure.”

MVA has  also  formed  ad  hoc  committees  to  begin  exploring  the  feasibility of extending the TRIP program to other markets, including Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, and the rest of Micronesia.

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