Tue, Apr 15, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Marianas launch campaigns in a bid to double Taiwanese tourist numbers

Staff writer, with CNA

The Marianas Visitors Authority is launching a series of campaigns this year aimed at doubling the number of Taiwanese travelers to the Northern Mariana Islands.

About 500 Taiwanese visited the US commonwealth in the Western Pacific last year, Marianas Visitors Authority Taiwan Representative Office marketing executive Eileen Chen said.

The office, which opened in October last year, has set a goal of restoring Taiwanese arrivals to the islands to the levels seen in the 1990s, when about 10,000 Republic of China passport holders would visit annually.

The number has plummeted over the past decade, which the visitors authority attributed to the 2007 closing of the Marianas’ representative office in Taiwan.

These days, Taiwan is among the smallest sources of tourists in East Asia for the islands, falling behind China, South Korea and Japan.

However, Chen said that the commonwealth’s relative obscurity is also one of its attractions.

The Northern Marianas could be a good option for someone looking for an island retreat less traveled than popular hotspots like Guam and the Maldives, she said.

One angle is playing up the islands as a romantic destination, as the visitors authority is seeking to do with a campaign that offers a romantic trip to the island of Tinian around Lovers’ Day, also known as the Qixi Festival (七夕情人節).

Earlier this year, the islands launched an “internship program” that paid the winner of a contest NT$60,000 to travel around the islands for a week and receive training as a tour guide.

Chen said her office also hopes that direct flight services could be established between Taiwan and the islands.

Currently, Taiwanese travelers have to transfer in Seoul — the opposite direction of the islands, which are about 2,700km southeast of Taiwan.

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