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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

GVB: Japanese market continues to recover

The Japanese market continues to rebound from a long slump, posting a 14 percent increase in arrivals for May compared to the same period last year, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau.

Over all, visitor arrivals in May have broken a 22-year-old record to become the top May in Guam’s tourism history, GVB said, citing its Research Department’s analysis.

The report said Guam welcomed 120,082 visitors—a 5.3 percent increase compared to the same period last year— during the tourism month, generating approximately $71.5 million that flowed into the local economy.

“The Japan market’s recovery continues with 41,688 visitors (+14 percent) recorded, while South Korea arrivals were at 58,248 (-3.7 percent),” according to GVB statistics.

“Other markets that showed significant growth include Taiwan at +41 percent for the month, the Philippines at +29.3 percent, Malaysia at +47.4 percent, Singapore at +25.9 percent, and Hong Kong at +21.2 percent. The U.S. also saw slight growth at +2.8 percent.”

“We began a fantastic Tourism Month with a record Golden Week and ended it with celebrating peace and friendship in the Pacific with the 31st Guam Micronesia Island Fair as the kickoff to a busy summer of events tied to the 75th Liberation,” said GVB president and CEO Pilar Laguaña.

GVB also attributed the record arrival numbers to the visit of Asuka II, which brought close to 900 passengers to Guam, as well as the Guam Micronesia Island Fair.

The industry was particularly thrilled by the Japan market’s rebound, after being stagnant for many years. Japan, which has been Guam’s premier market, at one point lost the top seat to South Korea early last year.

While the two markets’ positions have gone back to their usual rankings, Japan held a fragile top spot. A three-hour flight away from Guam, Japan has dominated Guam tourism for five decades, reaching a peak of 1.12 million in 1997 and accounting for 80 percent of total number of tourists that year.

In recent years however, arrivals from Japan dwindled due to a number of reasons including the strengthening of the American dollar against the yen and an increasing preference for domestic travel among others.

GVB has since experimented with marketing strategies to resuscitate this market.

Last week, GVB announced the appointment of AVIAREPS Japan Ltd to provide tourism destination marketing representation services in Japan led by GVB Country Manager Hiroshi Kaneko.

Kaneko began his career as a sales manager at GVB in 2015 and he has encouraged sales activity with a focus on air service development. This reorganization is part of GVB’s Japan strategic recovery plan, which includes aggressive incentive programs to increase seat capacity, and marketing campaigns to build demand through online and social media marketing.

“Guam’s tourism history started with Japan and Guam’s evolution would not be what it is today without Japan. People, governments, and businesses of Guam and Japan have benefited tremendously from this relationship spanning over 50 years. The Guam Visitors Bureau understands the value and importance of this continuing relationship,” said Sonny Ada, chairman of GVB board.

“With this in mind the bureau is highly confident in its selection of AVIAREPS, under Mr. Kaneko’s leadership, that Guam will continue to have a strong presence in the Japan market with the team’s extensive tourism background and expertise in destination marketing. We look forward to working with them in expanding and developing this market and relationship further.”


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