The numbers are out from the Guam Visitors Bureau. The island welcomed 136,878 visitors for the month of July, an increase of four percent more visitors than the previous year. According to GVB Director of Tourism Research Nico Fujikawa, it was the best July in Guam’s tourism history.
“A lot of historic events going on for this past month. The last time we were around this level was back in 2017. The industry is back on track,” Fujikawa said.
Fujikawa attributed summer events like the Guam BBQ Block Party and the 75th Liberation festivities to helping contribute to the record visitor numbers. He also notes Japan showed strong growth with a boost of 19.8 percent, while the Korea market continues to stabilize.
“What goes up must come down, however, the bureau is making sure that it is sustaining itself at a level that is acceptable, a level that we can manage. So we can’t expect this exceptional growth year over year. This is the point now that we have to understand what the market truly is as it settles,” Fujikawa said.
GVB also released its third quarter visitor profile report, which shows some interesting shifts in visitor behavior. Fujikawa says on-island expenditures from April through June of this year showed a weighted average increase of 50.2 percent from just over $393 to about $591 per person in the third quarter.
“There’s been a big shift among all the markets from repeat visitors, who have been here once before, to first timers. Usually with first timers, they’re in a new destination, they’re excited so they want to spend. They want to spend more in restaurants. They want to spend more in their shopping because they’re here for the first time. So that shift actually translates into higher on-island expenditures and that’s the trend that we’re seeing,” Fujikawa said.
He adds that visitors may be spending more, but because of this shift to first timers, they are staying less on island across all source markets.
“It’s a give and take. These are trends. It doesn’t necessarily state the health of the industry overall, but it’s just for businesses to monitor,” Fujikawa said.
Fujikawa also cautions that while tourism is breaking records, the industry can change in an instant.
“The industry has been doing well over the past decade and we have to be a little more strategic only because of the different things we are facing in the region. With Japan and Korea and the tensions politically and globally, that’s something that we need to keep an eye on and we are tracking and monitoring very closely,” Fujikawa said.
With fiscal year 2019 projected to end with a record 1.6 million visitors, GVB continues to push forward strategically in showing how tourism works for Guam.