By Pacific Island Times News Staff
After a few aborted attempts to resuscitate the Covid-battered tourism, the Guam Visitors Bureau has begun gearing up the island for the anticipated return of the Japanese tourists, this time targeting the young travelers.
As Japan’s travel restrictions gradually ease. GVB president Carl Gutierrez said he expects the first batch of Japanese tourists to arrive on May 31 when Japan Airlines lifts its Guan-Narita flight suspension.
GVB on Friday welcomed three groups of "ambassadors" to the island for a familiarization tour that re-introduces Guam’s activities and attractions to a recovering Japan market.
GBVB said a total of nine ambassadors were selected through the bureau's #HereWeGuam contest in Japan out of a pool of more than 500 participants. Four were available to travel to Guam for the fam tour, which began Feb. 21 and ends March 5.
The #HereWeGuam ambassadors include NHK Radio DJ Akiko Tomita, Miss Universe Japan Personal Trainer Takuya Mizukami, Miss University Aichi 2020 Kanna, and Sports Influencer Lucas. The rest of the ambassadors are slated to travel to Guam later in the year.
GVB said it coordinates with HYPEBEAST Japan, a worldwide brand that is known for its focus on contemporary fashion, art, food, music, travel and streetwear culture. The multi-platform company has a following of over eight million people with a mission to serve the curious and ever-changing spirit of youth. HYPEBEAST Japan sent its models Erika and Reina, as well as a media team to cover Guam’s appeal to Gen Z. “We’re excited to have welcomed all of these Japanese ambassadors and HYPEBEAST Japan to our beautiful island and encouraged them to share with their country that Guam is open and ready for them,” Gutierrez said.
“As we move forward with the tourism industry’s recovery efforts, we continue to communicate with our visitors that they can safely experience our attractions, hospitality, and culture," he added. The groups participated in updated optional tours while on island that featured marine sports, hiking, culture, wellness, shopping, and restaurants. As of March 1, Japan’s quarantine has been reduced from seven days to three days, pending a negative Covid test, for returning Japanese residents, business travelers, technical trainees, and foreign students.
Japan has been Guam's major source market for decades but the island has seen zero traffic from this Asian country due to Covid-related travel restrictions.
According to the “2020 Guam Economic Report” prepared by Guam economist Dr. Claret Ruane, Guam had a 76 percent decrease in tourism from 2019, resulting in a loss of local income and spending of $1.38 billion.
GVB attempted to revitalize tourism in July 2021 through the vacation and vaccination campaign but the new wave of Covid transmissions hindered the program.