‘It’s important to temper expectations when tourism reopens in May’

The Guam Visitors Bureau doesn't expect too much tourists this fiscal year. (PNC file photo)

The governor has targeted May 1st for the reopening of Guam’s tourism industry.

During last Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Guam International Airport’s International Arrivals Corridor, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said Guam can expect to see more tourists starting May 1st.

Guam Visitors Bureau treasurer Sam Shinohara told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Monday morning that GVB has set up a task force to do just that.

Governor Leon Guerrero has faced criticism from some people for her cautious approach to reopening businesses on Guam.

But Shinohara said that the governor has signaled that she’s ready to reopen the tourism industry as long as it’s done safely.

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“She’s been focused on public health for the last year. And now she understands that it’s time to revitalize the community, and the economy specifically, and we’re gonna work towards helping her do that the right way,” Shinohara said.

Shinohara said that even as the tourism industry looks to reopen, it’s important to temper expectations.

He said that he’s confident there’s pent-up demand in Guam’s source markets but tourism officials are waiting to see how Guam will proceed, especially when it comes to testing and quarantine policies.

Shinohara said that with Guam’s low number of deaths and hospitalizations and high vaccination and testing rates, the island is in a position of strength to make the first move.

That being said, he said the task force still has a lot of work cut out for it.

But one advantage is that from hotels to car rentals, the tourism industry has largely remained active although at a limited capacity.

All they need to do is scale up their operations.

He did say that as strong as Guam’s position is right now, it still needs to take great care to make sure the first groups of visitors have an enjoyable and most importantly, safe experience.

“The challenge is when we say May 1st is opening now, I don’t think we’re going to get a million visitors for that first month..but we gotta start somewhere. And I always tell everyone that, you know the first impression that we can make on these first visitors is really going to set the tone for our future. So we really need to do it right, even if it’s for a small volume of folks,” Shinohara said.