N. Korea threat not fatal to overall tourism numbers, but Japan visitors decline 26 percent in December
Guam caught the world's attention in August last year-- not in a good light, though. Guam faced threats from North Korea's Kim Jong-un, who set his eyes on this tiny Pacific island while testing ballistic missiles.
Yet, the fiery weeks of August-- though subsequently resulted in a number of booking cancellations-- did not seem fatal to tourism. The Guam Visitors Bureau’s Research Department has confirmed 1,543,990 visitors were recorded for calendar year 2017, making it the best calendar year in Guam’s tourism history.
“Congratulations to GVB and the thousands working in the tourism industry on a new record year,” said Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio. “We know it is not an easy task, but all of us working together to show that we are Guam and this is our Håfa Adai spirit and culture is what will keep our guests coming back for more. Governor Calvo and I will continue standing side-by-side with tourism’s finest to keep our top industry thriving for many more years to come. ”
The breakout visitor market of calendar year 2017 was Korea, with an all-time high of 684,443 visitors, up +26 percent versus last year. The increases in the Korea market helped offset the declines in other markets to include Japan, Taiwan, and China.
“Completing the year with 1.54 million visitors is a great milestone for our visitor industry,” said GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight. “The growth and diversification of all of Guam’s visitor markets collectively helped the island achieve that number, as well as the hard work and dedication of our tourism industry.”
Guam recorded 139,608 visitors for December 2017, marking it as the second best December in tourism history right behind December 2016. While Japan declined by 25.9 percent, arrivals from Korea jumped 26.2 percent. In addition, other markets that showed growth in visitor arrivals to Guam include the U.S. and Hawaii by 11.3 percent, Australia by 8.2 percent, Palau by 26.1 percent and Russia by 52.5 percent.
Since 2010, the dynamic growth and diversification of tourism have positively impacted the island’s economy and Guam's quality of life. According to the latest Tourism Satellite Account report, tourism has added 7,391 more jobs to the local workforce and $110 million dollars more in government revenue. Visitor arrivals have also grown 28.9 percent between 2010-2017, which speaks to the success of the tourism industry accommodating an additional 350,000 guests to the island’s shores.
“The local community is our biggest stakeholder in all of this and we are committed to having them benefit from tourism and showing them how tourism works for them. Si Yu’os Ma’åse’ to Governor Calvo, Lt. Governor Tenorio, the Guam legislature and our industry partners for their support of the tourism industry,” added Denight.
To help continue the momentum of promoting the island, GVB also recently launched its new Visit Guam 2018 campaign with its theme of “#Instaguam” in all of its visitor markets. The theme pairs two ideas: showcasing Guam as an instant destination from major Asian cities and the use of Social Networking Sites (SNS) to promote unique experiences of Guam by island residents and visitors.
GVB and our industry partners remain committed to the Japan market even as Guam faces several challenges including the weak Yen, reductions in airline seats, stiff competition from other destinations and the negative effects of the North Korea news. The Bureau is actively engaged with both travel agent and airline partners to support their efforts to promote travel to Guam. GVB also continues to work with GIAA to attract more airline service from Japan, such as the second daily flight from Narita that Japan Airlines announced it would add in March. Upcoming special events such as the United Airlines Guam Marathon and AKB48 Guam fan tour will take place in April and help boost Japan arrivals.