THE Marianas Visitors Authority recorded 1,107 visitors this past September, compared to 37,022 visitors in September 2019, before Covid-19 shut down the global tourism industry.

Visitor arrivals to the CNMI are down by roughly 97% compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.

In September 2018, arrivals to Saipan, Tinian, and Rota reached 43,924 visitors, but arrivals were severely affected by Super Typhoon Yutu the following month. Its residual effects included the closure of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

Flights were not restored until March 2019.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there were only 130 visitors in September 2020.

Since the CNMI established a travel bubble agreement with South Korea in July, the CNMI has received 961 visitors from the Asian country compared to only 14 visitors over the same period last year.

MVA reported that arrivals from South Korea are expected to continue to grow rapidly through the end of the year.

In addition, 164 visitors to the CNMI have arrived from the U.S. mainland and 108 from Guam.

“The Marianas has remained relatively unscathed during the pandemic due to strict Covid-19 safety protocols, including stringent testing and quarantine at all borders, a high vaccination rate of 83 percent of the eligible population, and overwhelming community cooperation with mask-wearing, frequent handwashing, and social distancing,” MVA reported on Tuesday.

MVA said it is also exploring the feasibility of implementing tourism resumption investment plans for Japan, Hong Kong/Taiwan, Australia, and neighboring islands in Micronesia.

Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’Way currently provide direct flights to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport from Seoul-Incheon, while United Airlines flies daily from Guam.

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