GVB’s brave new COVID-19 world: A ‘paradigm shift’ in the marketing of Guam tourism

(PNC file photo)

The Guam Visitors Bureau today unveiled a brave new COVID-19 world for the tourism industry wherein Guam would have to change its traditional paradigm of sun, sand, and sea destination marketing to one where the emphasis would be more on Guam as a healthy and safe destination.

During the virtual GVB general membership meeting Thursday morning, GVB vice president Gerry Perez said Guam’s tourism industry needs to retool for the future and speed up the adoption and use of technology in order to compete in the brave new post-coronavirus world.

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“Because I will tell you that this recovery is not like recoveries we’ve had in the past after a typhoon or after an earthquake or after an economic downturn. This is a different paradigm entirely different from V-shaped recoveries that we used to have in the past. For example, during SARS in 2002. We lost about 35% of our business, or revenues, or rather arrivals and it took us five months to get up to pre-service level. What we face today is having lost over 95% of our arrivals. So it’s going to be long drawn out,” Perez warned.

According to Perez, Guam is losing the equivalent of $200,000 per hour in lost tourism sales revenue.

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“That’s why people are hurting. And we have an unemployment rate that’s almost 30%. And so what this amounts to is about $200 per visitor in lost local tax revenue,” Perez said.

In order to help Guam’s tourism industry recover, Perez said all tourism-related businesses would have to adopt the latest innovative technologies related to health and safety to ensure that Guam’s tourists can feel safe and secure about visiting the island.

“We must set forth a strategic planning framework that invites innovative technologies. And the reason for this is that even before the pandemic, more and more of the tourism industry internationally has been migrating to powered technologies that we have not seen before. What COVID-19 did was accelerate the proliferation and use of these technologies worldwide, and we need to be prepared for that,” Perez said.

According to Perez, GVB is already setting the stage for this shift and a very basic part of this retooling process is creating more of a touchless end-to-end visitor experience.

“It’s important that as we address problems of today, we do not lose sight of the fact that we need to retool our whole tourism industry for a futuristic kind of an industry. One that is going to be far different than what we have been accustomed to seeing in recent years,” Perez said.

He stressed again that unlike previous recoveries from natural disasters, COVID-19 has introduced a new competitive paradigm that’s going to be centering less on brand-driven appeal and more toward health and hygiene safety protocols.

“So any destination that does not have anchored as its brand appeal hygiene and safety, is going to be left behind. And we cannot afford to get left behind. So the overall vision in terms of the future of the tourism industry in Guam is a more digitized destination that is trusted to deliver a unique visitor experience grounded in health, hygiene, and physical safety,” Perez concluded.