[photopress:guam_sailing.jpg,full,alignright]Almost every tourist destination looks with envious eyes at the potential of China. Guam, the American island in the Marianas, is no exception.
While the topic of the military expansion dominates the thoughts of much of the government — the US American marine base in Okinawa is moving to Guam — the tourism industry is hoping the federal and local government don’t lose sight of what truly brings in Guam’s bread and butter. According to statistics from the Guam Visitors Bureau last year the island’s tourism industry generated $1.3 billion for the local economy.
As well, tourism accounts for approximately 20,000 jobs on island, or 35% of the island’s employment.
Almost all of the tourists are from Japan. Very few are from China.
Chair of the Guam Visitors Bureau board of directors Dave Tydingco, said, ‘China is the single largest growth market. This year there were 38 million outbound from China going around the world and Guam has a minuscule amount of visitors coming from that area.
‘We want our U.S. representatives to look at encouraging a visa waiver only program for Guam. We want to push forward with an approved destination status with the mainland Chinese government. . . It’s to sustain our economy by allowing to continue to allow tourism to grow.’
The visa waiver idea is interesting. In 1969 Guam initiated its visa waiver program whereby citizens of more than a dozen countries are allowed entry to Guam without a visa for a period of up to 14 days. However travel onward to other U.S. points is not allowed.