The island faces the same challenges as several other South Pacific islands: Tourism represents a primary source of income, but the destination’s fragile infrastructure and underdeveloped hotel sector won’t hold up under a visitor boom.
Guam’s visitor industry had a banner year in 2012 with more than 1.3 million tourists visiting the island, according to the Guam Visitors Board.
Tourism officials said that is nearly a 13 percent increase over the previous year.
The Pacific Daily News said Gov. Eddie Calvo gave his thanks while speaking Monday at the Guam Visitors Bureau general membership meeting at the Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort. The governor thanked the tourism industry’s managers, workers and business stakeholders for working together to achieve such a stellar year for the island’s visitor industry.
“You are the lifeblood of Guam’s economy,” Calvo said.
The governor’s office said the last time Guam saw numbers that high was before the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
The governor encouraged tourism industry stakeholders to continue working toward an even better year in the future. He said Guam’s next goal is to welcome 1.5 million tourists. A five-year strategic plan that was prepared in 2007 set a goal of 1.53 million tourists by 2011, but that was not achieved.
The industry acknowledged that the upturn in visitors brings with it new challenges. For example, some hotels have had to turn guests away.
Calvo said he looks forward to the opening later this year of the upscale Dusit Thani Guam hotel. One or two hotels that have been dormant also are being renovated, he said.
One of the bureau’s newly elected board members, Oscar Miyashita, said though even though “things are really looking bright,” other challenges lie ahead.
“We’ve got to do a lot more to ensure that our visitors have a good experience,” he said.
Miyashita said that includes making sure visitors are safe on their vacations to Guam.
Miyashita, a CPA and senior adviser for Ernst and Young, and three other Guam Visitors Bureau members were elected by voice vote Monday to four open board seats.