GVB President Gutierrez: Keeping Guam closed to tourism may cost more lives than COVID

Tumon (PNC file photo)

Guam Visitors Bureau President Carl Gutierrez is warning that keeping the island closed to tourism may cost more lives in the long run than deaths from COVID-19.

At Thursday afternoon’s GVB board meeting, Gutierrez said that he and vice-chairman Gerry Perez have made the case to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to re-open the island to tourism sooner, rather than later.

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“The Governor of Guam has to be pressed continuously about the importance of opening up Guam, and the businesses on Guam, because other things could happen that’s more dire than getting the COVID-19. I know that lives can be lost, but still there might be more lives lost (if we don’t) build up our economy and our livelihood here,” Gutierrez said.

Businessman and entrepreneur Michael Ysrael also appealed for a re-opening in remarks made to the Rotary Club of Guam this afternoon.

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“Do we really expect we’re just going to stamp it out 100%? Or at what level do we say, OK, we’re just going to live with it. We’ve had bubonic plague for hundreds of years, we’ve had the common cold forever. We’ve had the flu, we’ve had influenza. We don’t shut our entire economy down, we don’t go and hide under a rock. We don’t pretend that we’re living in a bubble. We don’t turn our world into an isolation room at the hospital. So we need to know when can we say its safe to come out,” Ysrael said.

The Governor had hoped to re-open the island to tourists from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan on July 1st, but that was postponed following a spike in COVID cases.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the governor said no new date for reopening has been set yet.