Sam Shinohara, managing director of airport operations Asia Pacific for United Airlines and chairman of the Guam Recovery Task Force, is recommending that the Guam Visitors Bureau begin marketing Guam to our Asian source markets as a destination that is close, clean and safe.
As the omicron variant burns itself out, many anticipate the pandemic to become endemic. With that anticipation comes hope that pent-up travel demand in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan makes Guam the vacation destination of choice.
We all have learned to be cautious when trying to predict the next phase of the Covid 19 pandemic. But it seems plausible that in the next two or three months, travel and quarantine restrictions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will ease and become more conducive to, and for, Asian outbound travel. This prospect gives Guam a reason to be optimistic.
At first, the actual arrival numbers will be small in comparison to our pre-pandemic arrival numbers. But if no new variant disrupts our attempts to return to normal, we may expect a real travel surge— or a semblance of it.
One key to being able to quickly attract and satisfy tourists who choose to vacation in Guam is ensuring we deliver on the “clean and safe” part of GVB's marketing message.
A crucial thing for all of us on Guam to remember is that our Asian neighbors and visitors are more likely to continue wearing masks and following some type of “Covid Safe” guidelines than most Guam residents want to. We need to understand and respect the feelings and attitudes of our visitors if we want them to return to our shores and spend their money on Guam. We need to make sure we understand what the definition of “Covid Safe” means to the Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese markets and not just assume it is the same as ours.
We need to make sure our marketing message and the experience of the visitors align. Otherwise, we may miss a crucial opportunity to revive our tourism industry.
GVB understands that the clean and safe marketing message is not just about Covid-19, but also about making sure tourists are safe from the criminal elements. GVB understands that public and tourist physical safety must be a priority as well. GVB is working to fix the streetlights that remain broken in Tumon and feels its Visitor Safety Officer program is staffed and ready. It will really take a combined GVB and Guam Police Department effort to make sure we provide a safe travel environment.
With so many visitor-related local businesses hanging on by a thread, we as a community, and certainly all elected officials, must rally behind the efforts to support GVB and its marketing efforts. We need to do all we can to revive our tourism industry to create jobs and save our economy.
Jesse A. Lujan is a former senator who served in the 27th, 28th & 29th Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.