More cheap flights from Korea with inaugural of Air Seoul Guam service

 

Nearly 200 passengers arrived on Air Seoul’s inaugural flight to Guam from Seoul, Korea early Wednesday morning.

 

Air Seoul is an Incheon based low-cost carrier that now provides direct service from Incheon to Guam six times a week, adding approximately 3,000 additional seats to Guam’s current 73,000-seat capacity from Korea. It is the sixth Korean carrier to serve the island tourism market.

 

Thanks to saber-rattling by North Korea's Kim Jong-un and President Trump, there was fear of a sharp drop in Korean tourists, but the net result was a minor dip in an otherwise record-setting number of August arrivals.

 

Officials, however, acknowledged that with the persistent North Korea’s threats,Guam is now facing the challenge to sustain the tourism’s growth achieved in recent years.

 

 “Before the North Korea tension, our visitor arrivals for this August were expected to be the top month in Guam’s history. Instead, there was a slight decline. The last thing we need is for this trend to continue. We must make great strides to ensure the future of our island’s top economic contributor remains robust and diverse,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said.

 

According to GVB’s report released on Tuesday, 143,677 came to Guam in August, at the height of Kim Jong-un’s threats to launch tests missiles aimed at the island. The August number showed a 0.7 percent decrease when compared to August last year.

 

Officials, however, acknowledged that with the persistent North Korea’s threats,Guam is now facing the challenge to sustain the tourism’s growth achieved in recent years.

 

"Now is the time to arm the Guam Visitors Bureau with the resources they need. Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy,” said Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio. “For more visitors to continue coming to our island paradise, it’s important to reassure them that Guam remains a family-friendly and safe destination.”

 

According to GVB’s arrivals reporr, while other major source markets experienced some declines, Guam’s second top visitor market of South Korea was the least influenced by the North Korea issue, recording a 24.5 percent increase.

 

GVB expects arrivals from Korea to continue growing with the launch of Air Seoul’s direct flights from Incheon.

 

 “To provide diversity to the customers, we have decided to launch a new route between Incheon to Guam because Guam is the most popular destination to Koreans,” said Air Seoul CEO Ryu Kwang-hee. “Air Seoul will have a strong competitive edge since it offers a more spacious cabin, thus more leg room with personal monitors in the newest and latest planes.”

In commemoration of their inaugural flight, GVB will also be hosting a familiarization tour for major tour agencies, operators and business partners from Korea from Sept.12 to 16,.

 
“We’re proud to welcome Guam’s newest airline carrier and look forward to working with Air Seoul to continue developing our Korea market,” said GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight. “With over 1.5 million people that travel to our island paradise annually, this is a great time for visitors find out more about our 4,000-year-old Chamorro culture and Håfa Adai spirit.”

Air Seoul joins Korean Air, Jeju Air, Jin Air, T'way Airlines and Air Busan in providing direct service to the island. The airline is the second LLC brand from Asiana Airlines, which also includes Air Busan. Air Seoul currently operates flights to 10 cities in Japan and 4 cities in South East Asia.

 

Meanwhile, GVB’s Research Department has confirmed there have been 7,426 cancellations from individuals associated with package tours, school groups and Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) groups.

 

A majority of the cancellations came from Japan school groups that had planned to travel to Guam in the fall. China Air also cancelled its charter flight to Guam from Taiwan in October because its customers are hesitant to travel to Guam. The total amount of cancellations resulted in an estimated $9.5 million loss for Guam.

 

 “We’re happy with the August arrival results and are still on track to have record arrivals this Fiscal Year 2017,” Denight said. “However, even before the North Korea situation, we were facing challenges in key source markets. North Korea just exacerbated the situation. GVB has been proactive in mitigating this serious situation and we will continue to work hard together with all our stakeholders to counter the long-term tourism effects.”

 

Records show visitor arrivals from Japan declined 13.9 percent for the month of August, but Guam’s top market outpaced Korea arrivals with 68,351 Japanese visitors traveling to the island due to the Obon holiday. However, with major airlines like Delta and Korean Air reducing service out of Japan, a lack of seating capacity to Guam remains a top concern. Almost 1.4 million seats between Japan and Guam were available in 2012, but that number has decreased to less than 900 thousand in 2017. 

 

 In response, GVB launched a Charter Airline Incentive program in Japan, which has resulted in over 12,000 additional seats for the month of August, helping boost Japan arrivals. In addition, GVB is pleased to welcome the upcoming new route between Nagoya and Guam through HK Express by the end of October.

 

See related story: North Korea Threats Take Toll On Tourism

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