MVA official: Tourism industry will suffer ‘tremendously’

MARIANAS Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion said the CNMI’s only industry will suffer “tremendously” as a result of Super Typhoon Yutu.

“With the airport closure, that translates to the loss thousands of tourists arriving daily. All businesses that rely on tourism to survive will inevitably suffer,” he added.

He said MVA also received reports about specific airlines canceling flights to the CNMI for the next 30 days.

Christopher Attao Concepcion

 “We are very concerned, of course, but we have no choice.  We must begin getting the tourism industry back on track even among all this chaos. So we ask for everyone’s patience and support as we start normalizing things in the industry one step at a time.”

Concepcion said MVA still expects a minimal number of tourists to arrive, but this depends on the conditions at the airport.

“Most tourists have pre-booked their tickets and hotel reservations weeks or months in advance so we can’t chase them away if our airport, hotels and other facilities can accept them.”

When Yutu hit Saipan on Oct. 24-25, hundreds of tourists were on island.

According to the CNMI-Federal Emergency Management Agency Joint Information Center,  the Commonwealth coordinated outbound flights for about 3,200 visitors with several commercial carriers.

On Sunday, the Commonwealth Ports Authority started allowing outbound flight for tourists to their countries of origin.

Concepcion said while MVA has no control over what hotels are doing to assist their customers, he was informed by the Hotel Association of Northern Marianas Island that its members offered  “distressed” rates to stranded tourists.

He also expects the Francisco C. Ada/ Saipan International Airport to accommodate outbound passengers continuously and help ease the situation. 

“The airport is a critical piece of infrastructure so getting it up and running is absolutely essential for recovery to take place. Evacuating tourists will allow us to concentrate on recovery efforts for residents,” he added.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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