Tourism industry welcomes easing of quarantine; cost of travel packages will be reduced

(PNC file photo)

The island’s tourism industry has welcomed the announcement by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero that quarantine restrictions will be eased.

The governor announced this morning that all passengers who present a PCR COVID-negative test 72 hours before arrival to Guam will be exempted from quarantine.

About an hour and a half later, the Reopening Task Force convened its meeting and excitedly discussed the ramifications of the governor’s latest executive order.

“This is certainly a win for us. This is our first step and, you know, we’ll figure out what it means when we get to 80% a little bit later. But I think this is exactly what the industry is looking for in terms of clarity and ability to put things in market,” task force chairman Sam Shinohara said.

With the easing of quarantine restrictions, Shinohara, who is also a managing director of United Airlines, said more detailed travel packages can now be put together because airlines and tour operators will have a better understanding of what the expectations are.

“And we’ll start to see some things happen,” Shinohara said.

Moreover, with the easing of quarantine restrictions, Guam Visitors Bureau president Carl Gutierrez said travel packages to Guam will be reduced significantly.

“First of all, I think we can take all of the transportation costs in the beginning out because we don’t have to marshal them over to their hotels” Gutierrez said.

In addition, Gutierrez said incoming tourists may not need to sign up for the Sara alert and that would save them a further $75.

Earlier, Gutierrez advocated that the Sara alert costs be not borne by the tourists since the primary beneficiary of the alert is the local community and not the tourists.

Gutierrez said that the eased restrictions would also benefit Guamanians who are coming back home because under the executive order, incoming passengers, even if they have a non-PCR test, can be allowed to quarantine in their homes.

“Of course, PCR is still the gold standard, and we must communicate to everyone that total exemption from quarantine will only be granted to those who had a 72-hour PCR test,” he said.

The easing of quarantine restrictions also simplifies matters for vaccine tourism. Gutierrez said many of the standard operating procedures for vaccine tourists are now moot.

Moreover, vaccine tourists are now free to enjoy the island while they are here and not just be cooped up inside their hotels.