The Mariana Islands are preparing to celebrate its first Thanksgiving Day following last November’s federalization implementation. On November 28, 2010, the islands will mark one year under US Federal Immigration laws. The local travel industry was in fear of losing two important markets, the Chinese and the Russians, with the possible imposition of US travel visas to continue visiting the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota. However, the US Department of Homeland Security provided a unique visa waiver regulation to allow the Russians and Chinese to travel without a US visa. Today, the islands are thankful that federalization measures have not adversely affected local business as heavily as initially expected. Russian and Chinese tourists continue visiting the Marianas for up to 45 days, adding critical spending dollars to the local coffers. As the financial crisis impacted the islands simultaneously with the federalization, the island remains grateful for DHS’s decision to grant travel to these two auxiliary markets.
For one of the American-owned hotels, this matter was of extreme importance. Pacific Islands Club Saipan is the preferred resort for Russian tourists. The hotel hosts approximately 60% of the Russian visitors arriving in the CNMI. A casual research conducted prior to federalization revealed that even the most loyal Russian customers would rather go to another visa-free destination than spend time and money obtaining a US travel visa to Saipan. In the last few years, Russian visitors have catapulted to become one of the top three primary markets for PIC. As such, PIC’s management is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving its Russian guests.
In the first week of November, the hotel invited the Russian puppet show, “Gogoriki” to perform at the resort for its younger in-house guests. The famous “Gogoriki” visit to PIC attracted double the amount of Russian families who normally visit during the ten day autumn school break.
Later in the month, PIC will organize a special celebration for Thanksgiving Day. The resort’s various guests from various nationalities will have the chance to learn more about this American tradition through festive food in the hotel restaurants and special daytime activities. The hotel animators or Clubmates, will lead guests in a number of themed games such as “Paddle to Plymouth Rock,” “Turkey Shoot Archery Contest,” “Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest,” team competitions and much more.