NMI hopes to establish a travel bubble in Japan as early as December | News

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THE Commonwealth hopes to establish a travel bubble with Japan as early as December, Governor Ralph DLG Torres said Friday.

He said he was glad that the Mariana Visitors Authority is considering establishing an investment program for Japan’s tourism recovery, similar to the one developed for South Korea.

The governor noted that the vaccination rate in Japan has improved, which is an important factor in establishing a travel bubble with the jurisdiction.

“I’m looking forward to that. I also want to congratulate Japan for moving forward with their vaccination,” he said.

The governor said he also hopes to see the return of Skymark Airlines flights to and from the islands, as well as welcoming other airlines interested in establishing a route between Japan and CNMI. .

MVA will first have to inform the Japanese Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Health of CNMI’s intention to reopen this route.

The December target date is based on the current vaccination rate in Japan, MVA chief executive Priscilla Iakopo said.

“We have been notified [by MVA Japan office] that December of this year is probably a good target date as vaccination rates in Japan continue to [accelerate], as well as how the Japanese government is controlling cases there as well. We understand the Japanese government hasn’t pushed to maintain a travel bubble with any other destination at this time as they are really trying to get their Covid-19 cases under control there. For the past few weeks they have had over 20,000 confirmed cases per day,” she said.

An ad hoc TRIP-Japan committee chaired by Hyatt Regency Saipan General Manager Nick Nishikawa has been formed by the MVA Board of Directors to resume discussions with the MVA Japan office on how to establish a CNMI-Japan travel bubbles.

“We wanted to start having these conversations because when we launched TRIP-Korea, it took us several months to get to where we are now. We just wanted to reach out to all of our travel partners in Japan, as well as our partners here , to start having conversations to create a TRIP plan for Japan,” Iakopo said.

The board has agreed that MVA will include Warren Villagomez, chair of the CNMI Covid-19 task force and member of the MVA board, in these key discussions, as this will be another government negotiation to government, similar to the travel bubble deal between CNMI and South Korea.

“I hope we will get a good understanding of where the Japanese government wants to go and the pace at which it wants to go, and then start making concrete plans for the reopening of the Japanese market,” said TRIP-South Korea President Ivan Quichocho. .

MVA Board Chair Viola Alepuyo said it’s important to aggressively advance Japan’s travel bubble as soon as possible, while CNMI has the advantage of to be one of the safest travel destinations in the world right now.

“We only have one thing we can sell right now, and that’s how safe our community is. It’s a marketing tool that no one else in our area can brag about. Let’s use this marketing tool and be aggressive in establishing the other travel bubbles so we can bring in the tourists to boost our economy,” she said.

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