GVB settles on $1 million budget for vaccine tourism limited to US expats only

Guam Visitors Bureau (PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau on Friday settled on a $1 million budget for its planned vaccine tourism program that would be limited to just U.S. expatriates.

Originally, the amount requested by GVB management was $3 million and this was heavily debated by the board during its meeting Thursday.

At the end of that meeting, no decision was reached because some GVB board members had to leave the marathon hearing and there was no longer any quorum.

During the debate, a number of board members called for a postponement on the vote for a $3 million allocation pending a clearer policy from the governor about the new quarantine rules.

The GVB board meeting was held before Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero made the announcement that Guam’s quarantine rules would be amended, with fully vaccinated travelers exempted from government quarantine.

For their part, GVB management led by President Carl Gutierrez and Vice President Gerry Perez said the board needs to give management “the tools” to successfully implement the vaccine tourism program, or what Gutierrez christened “Air V & V” (for vaccination and vacation).

The $3 million would have been internally generated from GVB, diverting funding from other GVB programs. The amount would fund vaccine tourism for both US expatriates and non-US citizens.

The plan was initially limited to U.S. citizens because the vaccines that the government of Guam is currently dispensing come from the federal government and their use is limited to U.S. citizens.

In a previous GVB board meeting, it was pointed out that some FDA-approved vaccine manufacturers are now selling its COVID-19 vaccines to the private sector and thus, non-US citizen tourists can come to Guam and pay private clinics for vaccination or buy vaccines from pharmacies.

However, the decision reached in today’s board meeting now limits vaccine tourism to US expatriates because it would be a simpler process because they are US citizens while expanding the program to non-US citizens would be more complicated.