GVB presents drastically reduced budget due to COVID-19

Guam Visitors Bureau (PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau is asking for a drastically reduced budget for fiscal year 2021, reflecting the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the island’s tourism industry

Tourism officials faced senators Wednesday morning with an entirely new budget request of around $9.2 million — which is more than half of the governor’s executive budget request of $22 million for the tourism bureau.

GVB President Carl Gutierrez also requested the legislature to assist the bureau in its recovery efforts. He says that with the support of the lawmakers, GVB is confident that the industry will be back on track by fiscal year 2024.

“Number one, we are seeking the legislature’s support and approval to refinance the HOT bond, to reduce debt service from $7 million to $4.2 million in FY2021. Two, we are seeking support to keep our carry-forward amounts to assist in our recovery efforts. Three, we are seeking amendments to GVB’s enabling legislation that would allow streamlining of approval processes,” Gutierrez said.

GVB’s proposed budget reflects cuts in marketing, administrative, and research costs but a slight increase in destination management allocation.

With reduced arrival numbers, they are also expecting the Tourist Attraction Funds to decrease as tourism dollars drop.

GVB Vice President Gerry Perez said: “Just underscoring the importance of the tourism industry … the governor shared that it brings in $2.5 billion a year to our economy. Putting it in a different context, this really represents about $200,000 per hour in lost tourism sales.”

Perez added that it is not an understatement to say that FY 2021 is going to be a very challenging year ahead.