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Reviving Guam tourism



By Jesse Lujan

I don’t know if anyone else feels like I do but I am bewildered by the lack of urgency and focus on the part of Adelup and the legislature to revive our tourism industry.


As we all know, our tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic. And yes, thanks to the federal government’s many forms of emergency funding, many people and businesses have been saved from devastation so far.


But with most of the federal government programs no longer providing financial support and assistance, we really need immediate and decisive action from the executive branch and the legislature.


A program to provide additional funding to local businesses has been announced but I don’t understand why there isn’t a massive focus on preparing the way and doing everything we can to position Guam as the “safe and convenient” place to travel for Japanese and Korean tourists as the pandemic recedes.


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I am not at all dismissive of the need for continued vigilance in fighting Covid 19 and ensuring we follow the necessary protocols, but we must act with the utmost urgency, adapt and be proactive. We can follow the example of many of the states, cities and counties in the U.S. mainland that have been successful in safely reopening their economies. We can also look to Singapore as an example of government leadership in our region transitioning and reopening up their economy and acting with urgency.


The government needs to take note of what is working for other locales. We on Guam can’t afford to sit back and just see what happens. The senior management at the Guam Visitors Bureau has been doing an admirable job but it seems to me that everyone else is content to sit back and leave the rebuilding of our most vital industry to just two people: Carl Gutierrez and Gerry Perez. They are doing an excellent job but they need everyone's full support.


This is absolutely the time for “all-hands-on-deck!” It has been 20 months since the pandemic first struck our island. How long do we expect everyone who’s directly affected to survive? At this point, we are all left guessing and praying. That shouldn’t be our government’s main strategy.


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The governor and lt. governor should be visiting South Korea and Japan with the management of GVB. We should be visiting every airline, tour operator and online travel company based in Japan and Korea. We should be working on PR campaigns to communicate to the Korean and Japanese travelers who want to travel now: Guam is welcoming visitors with open arms.


The government of Guam should have already had programs available to provide tax breaks and direct financial support to the tourism businesses that we desperately need to stay open so when tourists arrive, they have an experience they enjoy.


Why not use some of the American Rescue Act funding to provide temporary jobs to the people who were on PUA and create “beautification teams.” The “beatification teams” could clean, paint and help spruce up the parks, sidewalks, bus stops and public areas in Tumon and the villages throughout our island.


The government of Guam could create public-private partnerships with the major hotels and tourist attractions and reimburse or cover the salary of anyone who directly lost their job due to the pandemic. The hotels and related businesses could identify projects in Tumon that will enhance and improve the experience of tourists visiting Guam and rehire people to immediately begin work on these projects.


GSA hasn’t issued contracts for parks maintenance services since April, so the Department of Parks & Recreation has been asking village mayors to assist. For over six months now, restrooms and other facilities in Guam parks have been neglected. The mayors don’t have the proper staff to maintain the restrooms and other park facilities. We could both put people to work and maintain and improve our public parks.


We have available funding. Adelup should ensure that Parks&Rec repairs every public bathroom and related facilities. Our island's parks and facilities could be cleaned, repaired and spruced up and looking better than they have in years.

There are thousands of people who need jobs and hundreds of tourism-related businesses that need support. The government needs to act with earnestness and tenacity and help protect and revive our tourism industry! Our future depends on it.


Jesse A. Lujan is a former senator who served in the 27th, 28th & 29th Guam Legislatures. Send feedback to jesse@jesselujan.org.




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