Guam – The Calvo Administration’s transition committee report on Economic Development and the Guam Buildup immediately recognizes the lack of resources facing the government of Guam with respects to financing and even talent. While it recognizes that the military buildup will help GovGuam on the financial side it also recognizes that the buildup will be taxing on GovGuam’s talent.
With this in mind the report looks at Guam’s economic development and how it is tied into the military buildup. The report states that Guam’s tourism industry is at a crossroads shifting from a Japanese visitor dominated market to a more diversified market. GVB has been focusing on moving away from attracting a lot of visitors who spend little money to instead attracting less visitors but those with more buying power. To do this the report recommends branding Guam as a more sophisticated and culturally unique destination. The idea is to attract richer tourists who will spend more while here.
However, the transition team also recognizes weaknesses and threats to Guam’s visitor industry. For example, Guam’s parks and historic sites are in need of major a makeover. The island has inadequate infrastructure and a lack of convention facilities. They expect competition for labor from the military buildup and they also recognize the problem of Guam being viewed as a military base.
What do they recommend? Getting the mayors more involved, increasing the focus on Guam’s culture with help from CAHA and the Department of Chamorro affairs. They even recommend creating a position for a special policy adviser to the governor on the military impact on tourism.
The report also recognizes that GovGuam has an outdated qualifying certificate or Q.C. program. The Q.C. program is a program that gives tax breaks to companies. It was invented 40 years ago to entice investors into Guam to create the island’s tourism market. Now that tourism is Guam’s number one industry the Q.C. program is outdated. They recommend redoing the Q.C. program and identifying new industries that the Q.C. program could be used to develop. For example, buildup related industries.
Overall the report foresees many challenges for the future of Guam’s economic development if there is no change from what the report calls “a lack of coherent and coordinated planning strategy” over the last 16 years. Their major recommendation is to complete a new 5-yr. comprehensive economic development strategy or plan to be driven by the office of the governor.