‘Return’ COVID testing eyed for departing tourists; but GVB won’t pay for testing

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 plans to offer “return” COVID testing as an option for departing tourists as an incentive for more tourists to visit Guam.

GVB will not be offering the service for free, as initially proposed, because of its budgetary constraints.

Instead, GVB plans to work with third-party providers to provide the testing as an option for tourists and it has already approved an RFP for this purpose.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, GVB’s visitor source market countries require a negative COVID-19 test before entry back to their borders. GVB plans to facilitate the return testing option as a convenience to Guam’s departing tourists and as a “come-on” for other tourists to visit Guam.

During GVB’s board meeting on Thursday, the tourism reopening committee proposed to temporarily shoulder the cost of the required COVID testing for travelers returning to their own countries by subsidizing the first 100,000 tests at $100 to $150 per test. GVB would then stop subsidizing the testing once the 100,000 cap is exhausted.

But GVB president Carl T.C. Gutierrez pointed out that just using up 100,000 and then suddenly stopping would just be akin to “teasing” the tourists which could later backfire on the bureau in terms of negative publicity.

“You get people used to something and it’s not there … this becomes a negative situation, just to lure them here … I don’t know ….” Gutierrez said.

It was also pointed out that GVB was in a budget crunch right now and can’t afford to subsidize any “return” COVID testing.

An example of a construction company sending its temporary workers back home was cited. Would GVB pay for the COVID tests of those returning workers?

Instead of subsidizing the tests, Gutierrez proposed that GVB serve as an intermediary instead, working with the Guam Regional Medical Center, the American Medical Center and other health providers on island.