Guam’s Air V&V campaign has received international media coverage valued at $2.3 million in free global publicity, giving the island a head start as tourism gears up for a post-pandemic rebound, according to GVB president Carl Gutierrez.
“At first I thought it would get limited coverage in Asian countries,” Gutierrez said. “We included the Yahoo articles’ worth in our report to the board (Friday).”
GVB’s vaccination and vacation campaign targets American expats and foreign citizens who seek to get Covid jabs.
“The CBS people from Japan who came here on Air V&V did a beautiful piece that played for over two weeks,” Gutierrez said.
The initial estimate of the Air V&V's publicity value has yet to include the latest CNN coverage on Friday. “The (CNN) article is available to over 2 billion people (and viewed by) 370 million households. It’s going to be big,” Gutierrez said.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, GVB had an annual marketing budget of $15 million, Gutierrez said.
Bali, which has a similar vaccine incentive campaign, is Guam's closest competition for the new niche market. However, the Indonesian island has delayed its border reopening until the first week of August.
The last time Guam piqued the world’s curiosity was in August 2018 when North Korea threatened to launch a missile assault on the island, prompting international media organizations to deploy news teams to the island.
“The North Korea scenario was a mixed bag. Air V&V is all positive,” Gutierrez said.
Guam offers Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson&Johnson vaccines.
Eva Air's second Air V&V charter flight from Taiwan arrived Saturday with 175 passengers.
Han Su, an agent with Taiwan-based Lyon Tours, said all charter flights to Guam are fully booked. “From July to August, we see around 2,000 travelers. Most passengers are first-time visitors to Guam; others have been to Guam before,” Su said.
While there may be other countries that offer vaccines, Guam is a preferred destination "because it’s safer,” Su said.
Kai Wei Chen, who was on Saturday’s charter flight, first visited Guam four years ago. This was his first trip outside of Taiwan in two years.
“I’m excited to be back. I’ll be here for five days. I’ll just hang out by the beach. I’m getting the vaccine on the third day,” Chen said.
Another passenger, Doris Chin, said she “will spend dollars” while on Guam for four nights. “I have a long shopping list,” she said. “This is my second time on Guam. I was here with my parents when I was little.”
Gutierrez said the arrivals of the first two charter flights from Taiwan have been seamless. “No glitches have been experienced,” he said. “We’re just trying to get businesses to open up and optional tours to open up as well.”
He said Guam is preparing to modify its quarantine rules.
“We can now shift to the advantage we have of allowing vaccinated visitors by almost all types of vaccines approved by FDA and WHO’s emergency use list to include Aztrazeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm) to enter without quarantine,” Gutierrez said. “Korea is now our target country due to their numbers of vaccinated and now inquiring about AirV&V.”
The Philippines will follow next, he added. "The Philippines, through PAL and now with a strong possibility of Air Asia, is a strong advocate of AirV&V," Gutierrez said. "PAL is looking to put service from Bangkok/Manila/Guam to bring not only expats and dual citizens but include Filipinos with U.S. visas."