BANGKOK - As with most other destinations, Guam is keen on wooing the promising China outbound market as part of its plans to develop new markets. The island is the western most territory of the United States and has yet to be granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) by the Chinese government.
Ernie A. Galito, deputy general manager of Guam Visitors Bureau foresees that ADS would be granted to the United States in the run-up to the Olympic Games to be held in Beijing in 2008. Nonetheless, Guam has already been conducting trade shows for several years in Guangzhou and Shanghai according to Galito.
He said that talks with the Chinese travel trade have been very conducive as they view Guam as an “ideal product”. “They want to see our product.”
Tourism is Guam’s number one industry and contributes more than 60 percent of the island’s revenue. Last year, tourism receipts was approximately US$1 billion for an island that covers 549 sqkm. Galito said tourist arrivals would hit 1.1 million this year and has set a target of 1.3 million tourists next year.
Guam, he pointed out has the second highest number of Japanese tourists after Hawaii for the entire United States. The key feeder markets for Guam have been Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Of these, Korea and Taiwan have been granted a visa-waiver agreement to enter Guam, and is the only US nation to enjoy that privilege.
Galito emphasizes that there is a need to develop new markets and he also continues to “see great potential in Korea”.
He is positioning the destination for long-haul and long-stay tours specialising in weddings and honeymoons; diving; eco-tourism and historical sites.
The island has handled 40,000 wedding packages in a year. Another draw is its shopping as 85 percent of its tourists shop. Luxury brand Louis Vuitton is opening a 40,000 sq ft store on the island and Galito also claims Guam has the world’s largest K mart.