The tourism industry leaders most closely tied to our visitor markets in Asia are speaking out, and we need to heed them.
Travel is on the rise again, and tourists are filling flights and hotels around the world in search of the next big adventure, a new culture to experience, or, for some, just a clean, quiet beach. And as vacationers mark bucket lists and set their daily agendas with things to do, places to see and places to eat, our local visitor industry must re-establish where Guam will land on this summer’s list of hot vacation spots. .
But, as the Guam Travel & Tourism Association’s “Get Guam Going” forum revealed on Tuesday, our little paradise in the Marianas has hurdles to overcome on our way to bringing more than a million tourists a year back to our ribs.
Jin-Ju Lee, regional planning manager for Korean travel company HanaTour, told forum attendees that although Guam is a closer vacation choice for South Korean tourists, Guam remains a “monotonous place to visit. ” and explained that the most common complaint from South Korean tourists who recently visited the island was that “Guam was not the same as before”.
“We need to work together to make sure Guam is ready for tourism,” said Sam Shinohara, chief executive of United Airlines, who joined the forum virtually from Sydney, Australia. “We need our bus routes back online…and we need our retail businesses and restaurants fully operational.”
Shinohara explained that although Japanese market travelers aren’t what they used to be, the number of visitors is increasing.
But before the visitor industry focuses entirely on bringing tourists back, we need to ensure that our local businesses, especially our tourist attractions, are operating at full capacity, ready to welcome, serve and engage with paying travelers.
An island with understaffed businesses and limited activities will face challenges as we compete with tourist destinations like Hawaii. Our island, our people and our rich history provide a unique cultural experience. We must ensure that local businesses that host visitors have the standards and support they need to make Guam the world-class destination that our travel brochures and marketers present for our source markets.