Checking up on Guam’s Tourism 2020 Vision
On February 4, 2014, Governor Eddie Calvo, along with officials from the Guam Visitors Bureau, Guam Economic Development Authority and Guam International Airport Authority, launched the Tourism 2020 p
On February 4, 2014, Governor Eddie Calvo, along with officials from the Guam Visitors Bureau, Guam Economic Development Authority and Guam International Airport Authority, launched the Tourism 2020 plan. Tourism 2020, a roadmap to help shape Guam’s future, is centered around eight core objectives with a goal to grow and improve the island’s tourism industry and attract 1.7 million visitors annually by 2020 (2 million with a China visa waiver). By completing specific and measurable tasks, Tourism 2020 aims to provide economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life for all Guamanians.
The Tourism 2020 vision is to develop Guam into a world class, first-tier resort destination of choice, offering a U.S. island paradise with stunning ocean vistas, for business and leisure visitors from across the region with accommodations and activities ranging from value to five-star luxury — all in a safe, clean, family-friendly environment set amidst a unique 4,000-year old culture.
Since the launch of Tourism 2020, the island’s visitor industry has seen back-to-back banner years and record-setting months in visitor arrival numbers, even in spite of declining markets such as Japan and Russia. This can largely be credited to GVB’s efforts in diversifying Guam’s arrival base and the significant growth of the Korea market, whose 2020 goal has, in fact, already been met. Overall, the island appears to be on track to achieve the goal of 1.7 million visitors by 2020.
But is Guam prepared to host 1.7 million or more in just four years? To ready the island for the influx of visitors, GVB Chairman Mark Baldyga says the Bureau is actively engaged with all GovGuam agencies through its destination management committee and is working closely with DPW, DPR and other agencies in flood remediation and other matters. “The core infrastructure is already in place to handle this volume. Keep in mind we are only going to add 6,000 visitors per day, even at 2 million visitors, whereas we have 160,000 residents and a current base of 13,000 tourists per day. Thus, the increase is really equivalent to just a 4% population growth, yet will yield 50% higher economic contribution.”
The Chairman admits the biggest challenge of the Tourism 2020 plan is raising the quality of the destination because it is such a monstrous task. “Under the leadership of Nate Denight, Clifford Guzman, Mayor Hoffman, Doris Ada and others involved in destination management, and with the support of the legislature and the administration, we are tackling our challenges one by one. We already added the visitor safety officer program, eliminated graffiti in Tumon and are adding online training programs for industry employees this year in order to improve service. But there is a great deal more to be done and we need to seriously ramp up the capital investment in our tourism district using the TAF (Tourism Attraction Fund).”
Since the Tourism 2020 plan went into action, GVB has made significant strides to improve the destination in a short period time. The bureau has also begun laying a foundation for conference or MICE business with the establishment of dedicated personnel, PR material and MICE study tours. GVB has also been actively promoting annual signature events to attract international travelers such as the Guam Live International Music Festival, Guam Micronesia Island Fair and Shop Guam Festival.
“I am excited by the rapid progress we have seen thanks to the outstanding efforts and work of GVB’s management and staff and I am excited by the response from the markets,” said Chairman Baldyga. “Our leading agents including the chairman of JTB and the presidents and founders of Korea’s top agents (Hana and Mode) have told me that they are thrilled with the plan and are excited to have a clear blueprint to follow so that we can they can plan accordingly and we can all walk in lock step towards our future. They believe the goals are completely achievable. I to believe that, together with our membership and the support of the people of qualm, we can achieve and exceed our goals, making Guam a better place not only to visit but to live, work, and raise a family.”