December 11, 2022

Potential CNMI-Japan travel bubble still pending | CNMI


SAIPAN – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is exploring the possibility of establishing travel bubble programs with other tourism markets, including Japan.

Governor Ralph Torres said on Monday he had spoken with Japanese Consul Kazuhiko Ono regarding the vaccination rate in Japan.

He noted that Japan’s vaccination rate is based on the general population, while the US rate measures those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, or people 12 years of age or older.

Marianas Visitors Authority chief executive Priscilla Iakopo said on Monday that the MVA board approved the creation of an investment plan for the resumption of tourism in Japan, or TRIP, an ad hoc committee that will be chaired by Hyatt Regency Saipan General Manager Nick Nishikawa.

Iakopo said MVA is also contacting its office in Japan to initiate discussions with travel partners in Japan.

She said MVA has learned that Japan is currently focusing on controlling the coronavirus in the Asian nation.

“When they are able to control this, I suppose they will start discussions with us,” she added.

Last week, she said she spoke with Skymark Airlines, which had to suspend its Japan-Saipan flight service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They always ask for our patience,” Iaokopo said, referring to Skymark Airlines. “Once they are ready to resume their travels, whether nationally or internationally, we will be on hold.”