The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rescinding its discretionary parole policies for nationals of the Russian Federation who are seeking entry into Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
This was disclosed by CNMI Congressman Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan who said the new rule will be posted on the Federal Register website for public viewing and officially published on Sept. 3, 2019.
Tourism executive Bart Jackson, who helped develop the Russian market for the Guam Visitors Bureau, told Phill Leon Guerrero over NewsTalk K57, that this is an unfortunate turn of events.
“You never want to lose a tourism market. Even a small one like Russia,” Jackson said.
He acknowledged that the Russian market is not as big today as during its heyday two or three years ago when Guam was getting about 20,000 Russian arrivals.
“Nowadays, we’re averaging 3,000 to 3,500 Russian visitors. And they don’t stay as long and spend as much as they used to,” Jackson said.
He added: “I don’t know exactly why this happened. It can be due to asylum issues or changing immigration policies. I think there are 300 asylum seekers on Guam. They use social media and the Internet to entice others to leave Russia.”
According to Jackson, many of these Russian asylum seekers are living off the charity of various social work organizations, adding that Russian asylum seekers can often be found in the soup kitchens in Hagatna.
Despite the asylum problem, Jackson said it would still be a bad thing if the Russian tourism market goes away completely.
“Yes, Guam’s Russian market has declined. Still, market diversification is really important for destinations. So to lose a market is not a good thing,” Jackson concluded.