Close to 400 thousand tourists visited the Northern Marianas by the end of fiscal year in September, about half the numbers of a decade ago.
The Marianas Visitors Authority recorded a drop of 2 percent in visitor numbers compared to a year ago.
But the Marianas Variety newspaper says arrivals from Japan showed positive growth during the period despite the limited number of air seats serving the destination.
The visitor authority said the unstable air links between Saipan and Japan remains one of the biggest hurdles in enticing more Japanese tourists to visit the CNMI.
It says price competition with Guam is also a challenge.
A dramatic increase in Korean arrivals is said to have kept the the CNMI tourism industry afloat.