Market decline

Consultant: The industry’s biggest challenge is the decline of the Japanese market | CNMI

Tourism stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands need to better understand what caused the decline in Japanese arrivals, said Jay Merrill, president of Market Research & Development Group Inc.

What happened to the Japanese market could also happen to the markets of China and South Korea, he said Thursday in his presentation to the general assembly of members of the Marianas Visitors Authority at the Kensington Hotel Saipan.

In an interview, Merrill said the biggest challenge CNMI’s tourism industry faces is declining arrivals from Japan.

This could be attributed to changes in the industry, the availability of planes and the limited number of seats, he added.

“I don’t think the Japanese think differently about CNMI,” he said. “And if that’s the case, there’s a big market that’s not being exploited very well. So we need to better understand what caused the slowdown. “

The closure of many Japanese companies at CNMI could be one of the reasons for the decline in Japanese arrivals, he added.

He said if there is still a demand for investment, but investors are unable to meet the demand, then something is preventing Japanese visitors from coming to Saipan.

Comparison with Guam

“In Guam, we have seen a similar drop (in Japanese arrivals), but not so quickly,” he added.

Merrill said tourism markets are starting to transform into very distinct types. Chinese tourists, for example, are made up of young couples who represent 67% of all arrivals. Most visitors to South Korea are families, while many Japanese prefer to travel alone.

“These three types of clients represent three types of experiences that CNMI needs to welcome,” Merrill said.

But all visitors to China, South Korea and Japan want culture – and activities related to the environment, he added. “This is what they are eager to discover: the cultures of the sea and the islands. “

In-depth statistics

In his presentation, Merrill said that based on visitor exit data, the average age of CNMI visitors is 33. The average age of Chinese visitors is 31; South Korean, 35; and Japanese, 37 years old.

Of the 2,148 respondents, he said, 66 percent were married; 27 percent were single or never married; 3%, divorced; and 3 percent refused to answer the question about their marital status.

The survey also showed that 65 percent of respondents had a college education; 15 percent, high school; 14 percent, higher education or higher education; and 1 percent, primary or middle education.

As for occupations, 32 percent were white collar workers; 16 percent, professionals or technical workers; 9%, managers or administrators; 9 percent, service employees; 9%, business owners; 6 percent, students; 5 percent, other; 3%, unemployed and currently looking for a job; and 9 percent refused to answer the question.

Among visitors with a university education, 64 percent were Chinese; 70 percent, South Koreans; and 57 percent, Japanese.

Merrill said 88% came to CNMI for fun and vacations; 7%, honeymoon; 3%, business or school; 3%, other reasons; and 1 percent, marriage.

Of those who came for fun and vacation, 97% were South Koreans; 88%, Japanese; and 81 percent, Chinese.

Overall, Merrill said visitors spent an average of 3.6 nights at CNMI, with Japanese staying an average of 3.1 nights; South Korean, 3.4 nights; and Chinese, 3.9 nights.

Merrill said the survey showed that 27% of visitors came to CNMI based on recommendations from friends or relatives; 25 percent have heard of CNMI through Internet promotions; 25 percent through a travel agency; 9% through television programs and advertisements; 8% through colleagues or a travel service; 6%, advertisement or article in a magazine; 4 percent, posters, signs or billboards; 3 percent, other; and 2 percent, through the MVA website.