Gutierrez expounds on vaccine tourism’s potential for Guam

Guam Visitors Bureau president Carl Gutierrez (PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau is still moving forward with its vaccine tourism program but with less money than expected.

The GVB board of directors on Friday agreed on a $1 million budget for its vaccine tourism program. GVB management originally requested $3 million.

The amount was heavily debated during GVB’s board meeting Thursday.

The vaccine tourism program aims to attract Americans living abroad to Guam to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

GVB president Carl Gutierrez told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo that Guam is most American expatriates’ best bet to get vaccinated.

“I know they’ve been sending out vaccines now to the various embassies around the world. Not only are their people vaccinated but those expatriates that are there might get vaccinated, but it’s not a top priority,” Gutierrez said.

Although in its current form the program is aimed at Americans living abroad during a previous GVB board meeting, it was pointed out that some manufacturers of FDA-approved vaccines are starting to sell to the private sector.

That opens up the possibility of expanding the vaccine tourism concept to non-Americans.

The $1 million dollar budget will be diverted from other GVB programs.

Gutierrez said that even though the program is only in its early stages, there have already been signs of interest throughout the region.

“We have made a lot of inroads into the media of other countries. In the Philippines, for example, we’re on the front page of the Manila Bulletin. People have been calling me because they’re receiving calls from their contacts in these various countries. So it’s got legs and we want to be able to figure out how to participate,” Gutierrez said.