The potential CNMI-Japan travel bubble is still hanging in the balance | CNMI

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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 Japan’s vaccination rate.

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

Mariana Visitors Authority chief executive Priscilla Iakopo said on Monday that the MVA board had approved the creation of a Japan Tourism Recovery Investment Plan, or TRIP, a ad hoc committee which will be chaired by the general manager of the Hyatt Regency Saipan, Nick Nishikawa.

Iakopo said MVA is also communicating with its office in Japan to begin discussions with travel partners in Japan.

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

“When they are able to get this under control, I guess 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 domestically or internationally, we will be on standby.”

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