Tourism businesses may not be ready for return of visitors

Tumon (PNC file photo)

The easing of quarantine requirements will result in more tourists visiting Guam.

The question is, will the island’s tourism-related businesses be able to handle the sudden influx of visitors?

Members of the Guam Tourism Reopening Task Force discussed this during their meeting Wednesday as members pointed out that many businesses that serve tourists have been in a moribund and calcified state because of their long period of inactivity.

“What’s the status and readiness associated with the support businesses that, you know, function across the visitor industry like the restaurants, the retail shops, the tour buses, the taxi drivers … you know, all of these things we’ve been thinking about trying to help. You know, now that we have this out there, what is our sense of their readiness,” task force chairman Sam Shinohara asked.

Guam Visitors Bureau president Carl Gutierrez said he knows for a fact that some hotels are not ready to take in vaccine tourists and regular tourists because they have long-standing contracts with the military to service rotating Department of Defense and military guests.

“There are some that are waiting for all the military business to be completed first before opening up in October,” Gutierrez said.

Hopefully, the easing of quarantine and the requirements for vaccination and PCR tests will allay the worries of the military and ease their desire to be segregated, the GVB president said.

“I hope that the hotels will now open up and the military will not be averse to staying in the same hotels as the visitors that are going to come in,” Gutierrez said.

For his part, GVB vice president Gerry Perez said the taxi industry and the tourist trolleys still need to ramp up and they are an important part of servicing the transport needs of tourists.

“We want to make it easy for anybody who comes here to get to where they need to go,” he said.

With respect to the larger tour options, Perez said they still require scale because they are really struggling.

“And some of the smaller tour options are also just limping along,” Perez said.

He added that many tourism-related businesses like restaurants and retail outlets are having a hard time finding employees because of the higher unemployment checks that they are getting from the government.