Same-sex marriages could have big economic boost for Guam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Same-sex marriages could have big economic boost for Guam

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Will same-sex marriage boost tourism in Guam? The topic has been taking the world by storm with Guam joining the 37 other US locations that have legalized same-sex unions. And as the island is already a hotspot for destination weddings, what implication could this have on marriage tourism here on island?

Dr. Fred Schumann is a professor of global resources management who specializes in international and Asia-Pacific tourism. "We need to look at this as a destination, and not just business by business," he stated. "I think our visitors want to feel welcomed when they're here, and so we really need to be inclusive and get everybody involved."

He added, "It can't just be one company, it really has to be the destination you know because people want to feel that they're welcomed there. And I think Guam has a history of being welcoming, and I think we have a lot going for us, but I think we still need to do a study and make sure that people are familiar with the market and are trained to work with this market if we're going to be successful."

While a study has yet to be conducted in Guam, what is known is that same-sex couples have different tendencies compared to heterosexual couples. "The statistics show that the spending is much larger than the regular average heterosexual community. In the United States, the spending is 30% higher," Schumann said.

"They tend to travel more internationally than heterosexual couples, they spend more, they go out and they dine and purchase items more."

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the top countries frequented by the LGBT community include Brazil, South Africa, Spain, and Ireland. And when our Pacific neighbor Hawaii legalized same-sex marriages in 2013, a study by the University of Hawaii estimated the change could increase revenue from tourism by $217 million.

"I think it's good for our community to be talking about this issue and opportunities for the island," Schumann estimated.

Guam Visitors Bureau deputy general manager Telo Taitague added, "Tourism is the largest driver of Guam's economy and every opportunity to grow our industry helps. Like most destinations where same sex marriage is legal they have seen an increase in marriage license applications mostly due to same-sex couples seeking to marry and the majority of those are from couples coming from other countries. I'm sure Guam will get its fair share especially if they are also planning a tropical island honeymoon."

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