Imperial Pacific Resort
which features the only full-service casino resort in the Marianas and
domestic product increased by
28.6 percent in 2016
Article Courtesy of Pacific Daily News,
Photo courtesy of Michael Sabian
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
experienced strong economic growth last year,
according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce,
which states the
gross domestic product increased by
28.6 percent in 2016, to $1.24 billion.
In contrast, the CNMI gross
domestic product grew by only 3.8 percent
the year before, to $933 million.
Guam’s gross domestic product grew by only .4 percent during 2016
, to $5.79 billion.
“For comparison, real GDP for the
United States increased 1.5 percent in 2016 after
increasing 2.9 percent in 2015,” the report states.
“Exports of services was the largest
contributor to economic growth in 2016, reflecting
significant growth in visitor spending, particularly
on casino gambling,” the report states.
Total visitor spending in the CNMI was about $489
million last year,
the report states.
“The number of visitors to the CNMI
grew over 10 percent, primarily reflecting an
increase in visitor arrivals from Korea and China,”
the report states.
By the end of 2016, China accounted
for 40 percent of overall tourism
with over 200,000 arrivals, according a January 2017
prepared by Horwath HTL for the Marianas Visitors
Christopher A. Concepcion, managing
director of the Marianas Visitors Authority, in
August said China's market has grown about 158
percent in the last five years. "The CNMI tourism
industry has seen nearly 30 percent growth in
arrivals in the last five years.
We've seen our China market increase tremendously,"
He also noted that arrivals from
Korea have increased by about 58 percent during the
last five years, and Korean tourists now represent
about 51 percent of the CNMI tourism market.
"Japan arrivals have shrunk
considerably, by 58 percent, which we are concerned
about, but are optimistic things will begin to pick
up in the near future,” he said.
According to Concepcion, the sharp
increase in Chinese arrivals has resulted in a
related increase in investment. Investors became
particularly interested after China's Imperial
Pacific International Holdings
was issued a casino license, he said.
"With that came a surge in investment
interests in all sectors of our economy, the biggest
one, of course, being the new Imperial Pacific
which features the only full-service casino resort
in the Marianas and Micronesia," Concepcion said.
Private fixed investment increased
more than 60 percent in 2016, reflecting
construction of the casino resort in Garapan and
other hotel construction on Saipan, the commerce
The increases have had a ripple
effect on the rest of the economy, Concepcion said,
with more rental car companies opening,
record-breaking hotel occupancy rates, and tour
operators selling out each day.