Japan's visitor market to Guam starting to rebound - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Japan's visitor market to Guam starting to rebound

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 2:18 PM Updated:

Things may be looking up in Guam's Japan market. Since the threats aimed on the island by North Korea, the number of Japanese tourists has decreased significantly. Officials from the Guam Visitor's Bureau met with Guam Legislature Tourism Chair Senator Dennis Rodriguez, Jr. this morning for an informational briefing on the current status of the situation.

Tourism - one of the drivers of Guam's economy. As of 2016, the industry has generated over a quarter of a billion dollars in tax revenues, 1.85 billion in tourism economy sales, and has provided more than 20,000 jobs on Guam. But recent threats from foreign nations have also threatened one of the most important markets for the island.

Bill Nault is GVB's Japan Marketing Chair, and said, "The decline of the tourism from Japan was a fast pace drop right after the North Korean threat."

Causing the reduction in Japanese tourists and the number of incoming flights from Japan. But things may be looking up, as he qualified, "It does seem that our partners are seeing some light in the upcoming future. The drop in group numbers have actually started to stop. We have started to see group requests come in for the near future and far future."

Since the Japan decline, the number of Korean visitors has risen. And while this has been able to sustain the industry, it doesn't necessarily make up for the loss. In the first quarter of 2018, statistics show that Japanese tourists spend an average of $480 per person which is double the spending average of a Korean tourist.

And while Guam may be gaining interest once again from Japanese visitors, GVB President and CEO, Nate Denight, says that some issues are going to need to be addressed. "Seat capacity is something we've been really focused on the last couple of years as it's going to be key to increase the seat capacity to be able to turn the market around," he said.

With flight reductions from Japan, GVB is looking into solutions to regain more air seats. One of which and their current focus is charter flight support. "Can you just explain the amount and what you foresee being spent by GVB and of course the return?" he asked.

Nault responded, "It would go anywhere from, I would say, close to $40,000 per flight to $100,000 per flight, depending on the airline and season."

Denight said, "And so what we did, is once they guarantee that fight, they have to make sure they sell all the seats because they guarantee all the seats so we wanted to provide marketing support for those flights to make sure they're full and they can be able to sustain those flights. This year because of because our regular service with the loss of Delta airlines really decreased, we're projecting about 62,000 charter seats in the market, so this has really helped sustain us."

Another question raised by Senator Regine Biscoe Lee, would the market be negatively impacted with the implementation of the 2% sales tax.

GVB's research committee is currently doing a poll with its 400 members, but acting Japan manager Hiroshi Kaneko says it shouldn't, noting, "Japanese people are familiar with this kind of tax. Even if the sales tax is effective on Guam by the first of October, I don't see any negative impact especially for the consumption spending in Guam."

GVB expects to have their poll results within three weeks and will then turn them over to the committee.

We should note that impacts of medicinal marijuana on the Japan market were also discussed at the briefing.

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