CNMI seeks diversity to boost tourism numbers

The outgoing head of the Marianas Visitors Authority says the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands needs to seek diversity in its tourism markets and that casinos are proving a draw to visitors.

Perry Tenorio, who is scheduled to retire in March, told Marianas Variety that new markets have helped revive the local industry, which was hit hard after the 1998 Asian currency crisis.

In 2013, arrivals to the CNMI started to improve due mainly to Russian and Chinese tourists,

helped by the inclusion of China and Russia in the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program.

Japan used to be the CNMI’s main market, but Tenorio said MVA believes that diversification is healthy for the industry, adding that they’re aiming for 30 percent Japanese, 30 percent Korean and 30 percent Chinese market shares. The authority is also considering including Taiwan in its promotion package.

Tenorio said the legalization of casinos has provided an added value to local tourism and to Saipan as a leisure destination.

The CNMI has seen a flurry of investor interest in casino resorts in recent years, in particular from Macau and Chinese investors, all counting on predicted growth in China tourism arrivals.