The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported a 49 percent occupancy rate among its 13 member hotels for November 2009, a 13-percent drop compared to November 2008.

A total of 39,450 of the 81,450 available room nights were sold in November, compared to 50,303 of 82,380 available room nights sold over the same period last year.

Room rates also dipped slightly from US$89.34 last year to US$86.39 in November 2009.

“November was quite hard on hotel occupancy due to low travel demand, as less than half our rooms were sold during the month,” said HANMI chair Nick Nishikawa.

“While we are looking forward to a strong holiday season from now through January, there is a critical need for more Northern Marianas tourism promotions in 2010 to sustain the industry,” added Nishikawa. “More strategic promotions in our target markets will be necessary.”

So far this year, hotel occupancy is at an average 58 percent, compared to 62 percent over the same period last year. Five years ago, occupancy averaged 72 percent.

In other news, HANMI members re-elected Aqua Resort Club GM Hiroki Sugie, Pacific Islands Club Saipan GM Kieran Daly, and Saipan Grand Hotel GM Ed Cho to its board of directors last December 22. Continuing their term on the board are chairman and Hyatt Regency Saipan GM Nick Nishikawa, vice chairman and Fiesta Resort & Spa GM B.K. Park, and treasurer and Deloitte Touche managing partner Mike Johnson.