The dire predictions for the island’s tourism industry appear to be coming true as the latest Guam Visitors Bureau figures show a massive decrease in tourism arrivals.
According to GVB, total tourism arrivals were down by 48.2 percent for the first week of March alone.
From March 1 to March 9, 2020, GVB figures show that the Japanese market was down a hefty 29 percent compared to the same period last year.
The Korean market was even worse, going down by a whopping 79.2 percent.
The slide actually began in February.
Even as Guam’s positive growth in January 2020 surpassed last year to become the best January in the island’s tourism history, the February arrivals already declined by 15 percent, showing the first signs of how the tourism industry is being affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Guam was riding off the momentum of a record fiscal year with more routes and seasonal flights into the first month of 2020,” said GVB President and CEO Pilar Laguaña.
“However, the novel coronavirus has now changed the tourism industry’s momentum globally. As we assess the long-term impact this will have on our local economy, we are committed to working together with our airline and industry partners to mitigate those effects and prepare a path forward. First and foremost, the health and safety of our people and visitors remain our top priority,” she added.
Going to get worse
The latest dismal March arrival figures are just from the opening week of this month.
Both the GVB and the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association expect things to get worse by the middle of March up to the end of April.
GHRA President Mary Rhodes earlier told PNC that GHRA’s membership will really start feeling the effects of the coronavirus impact by March and April.
According to tourism insiders, the few tourists Guam is seeing now were booked before the coronavirus outbreak became full-blown across the world.
Since then, cancelations for flights and Guam tours have skyrocketed.
Analysts say the month of April is expected to be worse because tourists have had a chance to cancel their April bookings which they are doing so in droves.
Meanwhile, the GVB Board of Directors has developed a coronavirus task force to address and mitigate the effects and concerns of the tourism industry.
The task force is composed of members of the GVB Board of Directors, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority, as well as GVB management and staff.
This group continuously monitors source markets, communicates with overseas partners, and is developing recovery plans that will be activated at the proper time.