By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Guam will seek exemption from the U.S. government’s travel ban on unvaccinated foreigners and request that the territory be allowed to continue the vaccination and vacation program for Asian travelers, Guam Visitors Bureau president Carl Gutierrez said today.
The new policy announced Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will further shrink tourist arrivals to Guam, which is currently dependent on Asians visiting the island to get vaccinated.
“Air V&V will still be available to about 650,000 ex-pats and dual citizens,” Gutierrez said. “We had more to draw from. Some came here, others got vaccinated in their country of residence.”
The former governor said the Taiwan market will be most affected by the U.S. government’s new travel policy. “That was our greatest source of non-citizens,” he said.
Even prior to the issuance of the travel ban, tour operators in Taiwan have stopped bringing charter flights to Guam after CDC placed the island under the level 4 category.
Gutierrez, however, said Guam continues to receive travelers from Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines through regular flights.
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The CDC announced that effective Nov. 8 non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to fly to the United States.
“There will be very limited exceptions to this vaccination requirement for certain non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants, including children under the age of 18,” CDC said.
CDC said fully vaccinated air passengers, regardless of citizenship, will continue to be required to show a negative pre-departure Covid-19 test taken no more than three days before they board their flight to the United States.
“For passengers who are not fully vaccinated, the rules will tighten to require a test taken no more than one day before departing to the United States,” CDC said.
The new policy also requires all U.S.-bound passengers to provide basic contact information to airlines before boarding flights.
CDC said the new travel policy is in line with the Biden administration’s orders to “put in place a stringent and consistent global international travel policy that is guided by public health.”
Gutierrez, however, is optimistic the travel ban will have minimal impact on Guam’s struggling tourism.
"With the increase of vaccination rates in our major source markets, GVB is hopeful that the world is transitioning to the next normal and is ready to welcome our visitors back to our island,” he said. “With programs such as Air V&V, we are hopeful that Governor Lou Leon Guerrero will prevail in the request to continue the program for the non-U. S. citizens. However, our original target is the ex-patriots and those with dual citizenship.”