(POST GUAM) – In this pandemic, Guam retailers are losing $34 million a week in sales while the tourism industry is closed, said Gerry Perez, interim vice president of the Guam Visitors Bureau.
Perez was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Guam meeting Thursday in Tamuning.
Without tourists, the industry is missing out on nearly $200,000 an hour in tourism-related sales, he said.
That also translates to the local government not seeing $175 to $200 in tax revenue per tourist who isn’t visiting the island, he said.
“That’s not insignificant,” Perez said.
“Now the government is taking care of itself because of federal grants but the people who rely on their businesses to earn a living are the ones at risk,” he said.
Restrictions on travel by foreign countries and the fear of being stuck in quarantine are two of the main obstacles the island’s visitor industry must overcome, said Perez.
While not much can be done about restrictions by foreign governments, Perez said, the island can do its part in ensuring the island is a safe place to visit.
“We need to make sure Guam is recognized as a safe destination,” Perez said.
An immediate priority for GVB is to help businesses earn a designation by the World Travel and Trade Tourism Council as establishments that meet the council’s “Safe Travels” protocol.
The stamp of approval is given when the criteria for global safety and hygiene standards in the hospitality industry are met. The designation is backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, said Perez.
Perez said maintaining or intensifying destination visibility in the market, even before Guam tourism reopens, is important as GVB transitions from a “Give Us a Moment” to a “Get Up and Move Again” campaign.
Technology will play a major role in how the island adjusts in the coming months and years.
“What COVID did not just to the tourist industry but to our daily lives was introduce technology in a very broad way,” he said.
The real challenge, said Perez, is retooling the industry and implementing a “touchless end-to-end” business experience.