The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI) gaming regulator, the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC), has questioned Imperial Pacific International’s plans to build a total of 2,000 new hotel rooms in Saipan, noting that tourist numbers would have to more than double to achieve full occupancy.
CCC Executive Director Edward Deleon Guerrero this week asked the House Committee on Gaming to reconsider IPI’s development proposal, stating that the CNMI would need 2 million tourist arrivals per year to service 2,000 rooms. There were 659,741 arrivals in 2017.
“I don’t think the CNMI could accommodate 2 million visitors a year,” Marianas Variety quotes Deleon Guerrero as saying. “And I don’t think we have the capability to construct 2,000 rooms.”
The timing of Deleon Guerrero’s comments is interesting, coming less than two weeks since the CCC granted a two-and-a-half year extension to the completion date for IPI’s Imperial Pacific Resort until 28 February 2021.
The IR will boast a 329-room luxury hotel catered primarily to VIP guests with the remaining 1,600-plus rooms to follow as part of planned wider development by IPI in Saipan.
According to Deleon Guerrero, IPI should continue to focus on VIP and forget about construction of more hotel rooms.
“It appears that revenue-wise, the VIP room is the direction in which to go — we don’t need the 2,000 rooms or 2 million visitors. We just need to focus on visitors and tourists of that type,” he said.
IPI saw its gross revenue decline 50.7% in 1H18 to HK$2.21 billion and profit attributable to owners of the company fall from HK$912 million to HK$79 million, due primarily to impairment of trade receivables.