The most common complaint among South Korean tourists who have recently visited the island is: “Guam is not what it used to be,” said Jin-Joo Lee, head of regional planning for Korean travel company HanaTour.
“There were no shuttles, no restaurants, no places to shop,” Lee said Tuesday morning at a tourism recovery forum at the Hyatt Regency Guam.
The Get Guam Going Forum is the first major event hosted by the new Guam Travel & Tourism Association to provide information and advocacy for small businesses in Guam.
The event, which featured information about the recovery of tourism from Korea and Japan, was broadcast virtually, but dozens of people attended in person at the hotel’s ballroom.
Guam’s tourism industry, which was almost non-existent during the pandemic due to travel restrictions, has begun to bring in more tourists, mostly from Korea, easing quarantine restrictions on those returning to the country. Nearly 5,400 visitors arrived from Korea last month, compared to less than 100 in May 2021.
Tourism in Guam is “developing quite quickly and positively,” the lieutenant governor said. Josh Tenorio, who delivered the opening remarks at the forum.
Tenorio said Guam will face the challenge of “trying to quickly unravel and reopen what was previously closed to meet growing and expanding demand.”
“The worst is clearly behind us,” Tenorio said, adding that Guam needs to take bold steps, guided by science and data. “We don’t want to be in a situation where we have a group of people on this island who want to dine and enjoy the sights, but then they are not open or not available.”
“There are good signs in the Japanese market,” said Sam Shinohara, managing director of United Airlines. “We have the opportunity to start conquering this market right now. The citizens of Japan can easily come and go as they please as long as they are fully vaccinated and that is what we want and we should strive for right now.”
Shinohara said United is monitoring travel demand in Japan and is “smartly working to bring capacity back to the market,” including eventually resuming direct flights from other regions of Japan.
“While we are yet to see a full resumption of our traffic in Japan, we are starting to see a surge in bookings, and with these signs in mind, we recently announced the relaunch of our service in Osaka,” said Shinohara.
Flights from Osaka will operate three times a week, he said, and flights from Narita will increase to 14 times a week in July.
Shinohara attended the forum practically from Sydney, Australia, where he is visiting United Operations. He said a shortage of workers in Australia has led to long queues for security checks at Sydney Airport and the closure of eateries and restaurants at the airport…