GVB to present vaccine tourism plan to governor; will ask for AstraZeneca authorization

Tourists at the Guam airport. GVB has asked Adelup for help in sustaining its PCR testing program for tourists. (PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau is ready to present its vaccine tourism plan to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero.

Under GVB’s vaccine tourism plan, Guam will be marketed as a “vaccination destination” for American expatriates living and working in the Asia-Pacific because Guam is one of only a few places in the region with enough FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The governor has said she supports the concept of vaccine tourism being proposed by GVB. However, the governor said she can’t give “her blessing” to the project because GVB still has to make a presentation to her of the detailed plan and budget for vaccine tourism. The governor also reiterated that the local residents should be prioritized in using Guam’s vaccine supply.

According to GVB president Carl Gutierrez, they have already been talking with Dr. Mike Cruz, the governor’s surgeon general, to set up a meeting with the governor and this meeting could come as early as tomorrow Friday.

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“The governor is quite anxious to get this thing to where she can put her stamp of approval. Dr. Cruz is working with a schedule of the governor for us to meet her tomorrow and hopefully, that thing finally comes out,” Gutierrez told the GVB board during its meeting Thursday afternoon.

Nadine Leon Guerrero, GVB’s director of global marketing, said they plan to ask the governor for authorization to allow people to purchase vaccine tourism packages with hotels on island. Those packages include COVID testing and the travelers receiving the vaccinations on day two of their arrival.

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“So we’re trying to decrease the timeframe for them waiting to get that first dose,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added: “We’re getting positive feedback. We have the Chambers of Commerce from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and others reaching out, asking to come to Guam to get their vaccinations.”

GVB’s Philippine office has already placed advertisements in various expat association publications encouraging US expatriates and dual citizens to get vaccinated on Guam.

According to Gutierrez, GVB will also try to get authorization from the governor to allow the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as one of the vaccines that the GovGuam will recognize for entry to Guam.

Currently, Guam only recognizes the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The AstraZeneca COVID vaccine has not yet been fully approved by the FDA. However, Gutierrez pointed out that many of the countries in the region are using the AstraZeneca vaccine including many of Guam’s tourism markets.

Gutierrez added that GVB’s vaccine tourism plan has also been getting a great deal of interest from the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce.

In fact, Gutierrez said the organization has asked GVB to follow up with the airlines on vaccine tourism and the group is even willing to have charter flights to Guam to have its members vaccinated.

Gutierrez warned that the longer Guam delays its vaccine tourism program, the more competitors Guam will have in the market.

“We have to start moving now,” Gutierrez stressed.