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 Black Tie International Magazine: Saipan

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Black Tie International Magazine:

Saipan: Gross Domestic Product increased by 28.6% in 2016


Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel,

Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel,
 which features the only full-service casino resort in the Marianas and Micronesia,

ross domestic product increased by
28.6 percent in 2016

Article Courtesy of Pacific Daily News, Photo courtesy of Michael Sabian

he Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan)
experienced strong economic growth last year,
 according to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce,
 which states the
 CNMI gross
 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 study,
prepared by Horwath HTL for the Marianas Visitors Authority.

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 said.


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 Resort Hotel,
 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 report states.

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.



Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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