The World Resort Saipan’s $30 million improvement helped boost tourist arrivals from Korea. The boost means additional flights by Asiana Airlines to the Northern Mariana Islands according to a ranking Asiana Airlines official.

Kwang Joong Kim general manager of Asiana Airlines’ Saipan regional sales office; disclosed that the airline would increase flights to Saipan by three more additional flights a week. Asiana has seven daily flights to Saipan.

Kim told the Journal that Saipan now has another attraction for Korean travelers. “The World Resort helps in developing the Korean market. It has an important role. The water park is an attraction ” Kim said. He said the NMI should enhance its tourism infrastructure to have more attractions. “We need to develop. We need to invest on infrastructures like an aquarium cable car from Garapan to Mt. Tapachao (Saipan’s highest peak) and a bungee jump around Banzai Cliff. Tourists look for exciting places to go ” he said.

According to a presentation by Jerry L. Tan president of Tan Holdings Corp. and chairman of the board of the Marianas Visitors Authority; during a general membership meeting held on Oct. 4 at World Resort Saipan visitor arrivals from Korea have gone up by 21.5% this year compared to 2005.

The load factor Tan said posted a 40% growth and flights for the remaining months of the year are “almost completely sold ” with more flights seen in January and February 2007.

Kim said it is “very possible” that Asiana Airlines could start the three additional daily flights by December. “We want to get three more flights a week to make it 10 flights a week. It is very possible ” Kim said.

He said December is the target month because Asiana Airlines “already has enough passenger load for September October and November.” 

Kim said Asiana Airlines started using a Boeing 777 in 2006. The aircraft has a seating capacity of 321 people. “Last year our aircraft was an Airbus 321 which has a 177 seating capacity. We’ve got a bigger flight. We have already increased our capacity ” Kim said.

Passengers were mostly from Seoul he said.

Another factor to which Kim attributed the increase in passenger load are the promotional efforts that the airline made in conjunction with the Marianas Visitors Authority among the efforts is a Korean TV drama series  — “Tango With You” — that was almost entirely shot on location in the NMI. The TV show started airing in Korea in August and has gotten high ratings.

“The rating is very high. It was very successful. Amazing ” Kim said.

World Resort embarked on a $30-million improvement project in May 2004 which involved a water park that has a 220-meter-long “master blaster” water slide a banquet hall fit for 500 people specialty restaurants a sports bar and karaoke rooms. World Resort held a grand opening on March 18.

B.K. Park general manager for World Resort; told the Journal that World Resort is expecting 10 000 visitors from Korea in 2006 because the hotel’s holding company World Construction Co. will be building 10 000 apartment and condominium units and will be providing as part of a special package offer free roundtrip plane tickets to Saipan and four-nights’ stay at the hotel for each unit’s buyer. (See the story “World Resort Saipan expects 10 000 visitors from Korea in 2006” in the March 20 issue of the Journal.) MBJ