Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Guam officially restarted tourism today with the arrival of the first group of vaccine-seeking travelers from Taiwan, bringing optimism to the island's struggling industry.
Officials welcomed 153 passengers on board EVA Air charter flight that landed at 3 p.m.
“This is just the beginning of the revival of Guam’s number one industry,” said Carl Gutierrez, GVB president & CEO.
GVB is counting on Americans living in Asian countries and foreign travelers, who seek to take advantage of Guam's "vaccination & vacation" program, to fill the void created by the world travel pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Guam Visitors Bureau anticipates more than 2,000 visitors from Taiwan in the months of July and August.
The next charter flight is scheduled to arrive July 10 and then July 14. Gutierrez said he is expecting at least 20 charter flights in July when Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero eased the quarantine requirement and other Covid-related restrictions once the 80 percent vaccination rate is achieved by July 21.
Guam's vaccination rate is currently 76 percent.
Gutierrez anticipates GVB's Air V&V initiative to draw about 30,000 travelers by the end of the year.
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The EVA Air charter, an Airbus A321-200, is one of several flights that are coordinated by various Taiwan travel agencies, such as Lion Travel and Phoenix Tours.
Taiwan media have reported that the tour agency Lion Travel had sold about 600 five-day package tours to Guam, and two of the biweekly flights to Guam were fully booked. Lion Travel reportedly offers package deals that cost $880 per person under Guam's Air V&V program.
“I want to recognize the great collaboration between the Guam Taiwan Office, EVA Air, and other travel trade partners in making this charter flight a success,” said Nadine Leon Guerrero, GVB director of Global Marketing.
Participating hotels have prepared their facilities for the arrival of new travelers.
"We always think of ways to improve our service," said Maria Teresa Reyes-Burrier, food and beverage director at Lotte Guam Resort. "With the Air V&V program, we want to make sure our guests have a pleasant experience even though they will be in quarantine."
Reyes-Burrier said Lotte Hotel has adequately trained its newly hired employees on how to prepare and serve meals.
"We have safety measures in place," she said. "We hope for a safe reopening our tourism."
Chito De Guzman-Aguilo, general manager at Guam Reef & Olive Spa Resort, said the hotel is in compliance with the safety guidelines established by the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services.
"We have been implementing these guidelines throughout the pandemic," she said.