Departing Saipan tourists make room for aid workers

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) —  The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands is working to get resorts and other tourist destinations up and running as soon as possible after the devastation of last week’s Supertyphoon Yutu.

Wendi Herring, co-chair of the association and general manager of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, said hotel operators are taking things one day at a time.

Wendi Herring

Although the Garapan resort didn’t sustain any major damage, she said resorts and hotels located on the southern part of the island did not fare as well and many sustained substantial damage.

“It’s a day-by-day process and all of the hotels are working as quickly as they can to restore services,” she said. Herring said most of the resorts have backup power and water, “so we are taking care of our staff and our guests that still remain.”

Approximately 3,200 tourists were stranded after the storm, but as of Monday only a small portion remained.

Twenty to 30 tourists still staying at the Fiesta Resort returned home Monday evening, Herring said.

The Korean government sent military flights just days after the typhoon struck.

“I did hear they came in quite quickly and got their people as quickly as possible,” she said.

‘A lot of rooms to fill’

The rooms that tourists have vacated are now available for disaster-relief personnel arriving on island, she said.

“Most of us have quite a lot of rooms to fill for disaster-relief people,” some of whom are booking rooms for up to 90 days.

She said while hotels are giving priority to aid workers and other personnel, resort managers also are looking ahead to a time when tourists will return.

“We are just trying to get a handle on information on when international flights might be able to come in again,” said Herring.

Tourism is the No. 1 industry in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and impacts the entire economy, she said.

“We need tourists to come back and start enjoying our beautiful beaches and scenery.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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