A great day for Guam: All time record in tourism arrivals

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Governor Eddie Baza of the US Territory Guam together with the Guam Visitors Bureau today have a proud day.

Another best! Great job to the Guam Visitors Bureau and its industry partners on making Fiscal Year 2017 the best year in our tourism history! This is a success for the hospitality and service industry, and it’s a win for the people of Guam.  We need to turn those talents and determination to the year ahead as we face challenges caused by factors outside of our control, Ray and I stand ready to support GVB and our tourism industry.”  

                                                                            — Governor Eddie Baza Calvo

1.56 M visitors come to Guam from Oct. 2016 to Sept. 2017

Guam continues to increase its visitor arrivals with about 1.56 million people from around the world, primarily Asia, coming to enjoy Guam’s beautiful culture and beaches during Fiscal Year 2017.

That’s a 3.2% increase over the previous year, breaking last fiscal year’s record and making FY2017 the top fiscal year in Guam’s history.

September 2017 is third best September

The record breaking year closed out strong with 117,152 visitors in September. This was enough to catapult the month to the third highest September in tourism numbers in our tourism history.

“This didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen by accident. The growth came from a lot of planning, working with partners, and executing a plan that diversified our tourism market and expanded the opportunities for people who come to Guam. We showcase our beautiful Chamorro culture, our diversity, our ability to host athletic competitions and provide concerts – all wrapped in a beautiful package of sandy white beaches, great diving, and shopping,” Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio stated.

“We definitely want to take a moment to highlight the successes we’ve achieved for Guam in this past fiscal year. From record-breaking months, new airline carriers and multiple awards for Guam, the women and men in our tourism industry have taken our island to a new level. Governor Calvo and I continue to encourage our island residents to shine and spread that Håfa Adai spirit to everyone they meet.”

Task Force created to help struggling markets

Even with an excellent showing for September, GVB had been working towards and hoping for higher numbers. There were some decrease in various markets, with the Korea, which showed a 33.3% increase over last September. The launch of Air Seoul’s direct flights from Incheon on September 13th helped boost arrivals. Air Seoul is now Guam’s sixth airline that provides service from Korea.

“I thank my GVB team for all their hard work this fiscal year and congratulate Guam’s tourism industry on another record year,” said GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight.

Denight said Japan, which remains Guam’s top market, continues to see a decrease. And this wasn’t helped by recent regional tensions.

“FY18 is off to a rough start with the North Korea news. GVB is working hard with our government and tourism partners to overcome the challenges in our core markets,” Denight stated.

The updated number of cancellations is now at 7,556, which is an estimated $9.5 million loss for Guam. The cancellations were made from individuals associated with school groups; package tours; and Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) groups. Most of the cancellations came from Japan school groups that had planned to travel to Guam between September and December.

Governor Calvo has assembled a task force made up of officials from GVB, Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA) and Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA). It was through partnerships such as these that helped build the tourism base we have today.

Not only has GVB managed to expand and open new markets, our island has about 16 airlines and 3 cargo operations — we used to have 7 airlines and 1 cargo operation. Additionally, through economic development, Guam has seen visitor-supporting business sector grow — from new restaurants and hotels to expanded retail stores — that visitors enjoy today.

Japan recovery plan

As part of the recovery efforts for Japan, GVB and its industry partners are looking to bring in hundreds of travel agents and international media for a mega familiarization tour sometime between November and December so they can experience how safe Guam really is.

Aggressive marketing strategies and promotions are also in progress to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first flight from Tokyo to Guam in 1967 that brought 109 travel agents and media to the island.

Air service initiatives

A steady decrease in air seat capacity from Japan has been a factor in the decline of Japan visitor arrivals. In response, GVB launched two programs to address concerns with seating capacity in Japan. The Charter Airline Incentive program launched in January 2017 and provides support to travel agents or airlines that provide extra charter flights to Guam. This program was able to double the number charter flights to Guam, from 100 charters in 2016 to over 200 by the end of the year.

In April, GVB launched a second program to attract additional regular air service. Through this program, Guam was able to secure the Nagoya-Guam route with HK Express for October 2017, but the airline decided to delay the launch until summer 2018 due to the North Korea issue.

Seating capacity to Guam continues to be a concern as United plans to suspend its twice-weekly flights out of Sapporo in January 2018. With Delta ending Tokyo-Guam flight services, fewer seats will be available to the island in 2018. Nearly 1.4 million seats between Japan and Guam were available in 2012, and that number has decreased to less than 900 thousand in 2017.

Additionally, Guam has fewer seats in its other visitor markets. HK Express suspended its service coming out of Hong Kong this past June. EVA Air also suspended its twice-weekly flights coming out of Taiwan. Just recently, United announced it would suspend its daytime flights out of Manila in January 2018.

“It isn’t going to be easy, but by working together we can recover,” Governor Calvo stated.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.