500 Korean visitors cancel Guam tour due to omicron fears

The B777-300 aircraft arrived from Incheon with 82 passengers on board. Korean Air has started weekly service once again to Guam since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. (GVB photo)

Although there is still no confirmed case of the omicron variant on Guam, the island’s tourism industry is already feeling the effects of the fear that this new variant has generated.

According to Guam Visitors Bureau vice president Gerry Perez, a Korean group incentive tour consisting of 500 visitors just canceled their planned tour of Guam, presumably due to fears of the omicron variant.

“This omicron issue has really put a kind of a speed bump in the positive trends that we’ve seen the last couple of months,” Perez said during the Guam Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 economic forecast webinar held Friday morning.

“The group incentive booking for 500 just canceled a couple of days ago. We would have had 500 more visitors except for their concern for COVID and everybody’s still worried about that,” Perez said.

He said the omicron variant may be a temporary setback for Guam tourism pending further clarification on the severity of the variant and the international travel restrictions recently imposed by Guam’s source markets.

While GVB is concerned with the prolonged return protocols in Japan and Korea that have been reimplemented, Perez said they don’t believe this will be long-lasting.

“GVB will continue to monitor the situation and adapt our recovery strategy as needed. We remain optimistic as scheduled air seats continue to hold. Guam’s vaccination process and local protocols should continue to protect our community during this evolving pandemic,” Perez said.

He added: “And although the new virus variant is highly transmissible, we’re encouraged to read that this variant has not been as great as the Delta variant so far in afflicting individuals. The only thing we can do, at this time, is to stay faithful to the current protocols that we have in place on the island and continue to intensify the rate of inoculation beyond 91 percent.”

Perez said GVB continues to communicate with its source markets to monitor and see if there are any changes in their restrictions, as well as continuing to communicate aspirational messages for them to come to Guam because we are a safe resort destination with a very high vaccination rate.