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Tourism decreases after Japan's disaster

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Alupang Beach Club general manager Kazu Aoki says his company has been getting some cancellations since news about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. "After that, fifty or sixty customers cancelled per day," he said. "So even right now, maybe 20 or 30 customers have cancelled...usually 500 or 600 per day, but right now, so many cancelled. There's no choice."

He says while they do get a number of tourists from Taiwan and China with a few individuals in the military, he says the decline from the Japanese market can hurt local businesses. "Of course, soon we want to get back to normal here but as you know, Japan has a huge, big damage. So I hope, if not possible, they can fix and have a normal life. We really hope to have that," he explained.

Guam Visitors Bureau deputy director Joanne Camacho says more and more tourists have cancelled their visits to the island. In order to offset those numbers, she says they're going to concentrate more on the other markets for now, telling KUAM News, "We're working with our agents in different countries, in Taiwan and Korea, and hopefully see what we can do to stop the cancellations and to get people in ties to come and visit Guam."

While there is a steady number of tourists coming in from Japan, it's still unknown whether these numbers will go down. Companies like Onward Beach Resort are hoping for better days, as lifeguards Jeneal Besabe and Paul Campos say the number of Japanese tourists visiting the water park varies each day.  Besabe said, "It's up and down pretty much. We'll see a couple of Japanese coming and the next day, we won't really see a lot since the tsunami and earthquake in Japan."

Campos added, "Majority, yes. Majority of them, our guests here at Onward are from Japan or just our local rate."

While GVB isn't so sure how much the market has declined, Camacho says they'll continue to track the numbers for the next 90 days. "I think we're anticipating a 20-30% drop, or maybe even a little more. So right now we're focused on trying to help the nation of Japan," she said.

With a thousand military personnel deployed here for an indefinite period, Camacho says it could help the economy a bit while the island may experience an economic downturn. "Depending the military's plan and how many people they plan on relocating from Japan to Guam and how long they're going to stay on our island. Of course, they'll probably be staying at the hotels, so that will help. This will help things a little bit," she said.

"However, I don't think they're spenders. So as far as shopping is concerned, we can't bank on that."

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