Buenas yan håfa adai! At the Guam Visitors Bureau, safety is always at the top of our minds, as it’s one of the top reasons why visitors choose Guam.
Being the closest U.S. soil to Asia is definitely an advantage when compared to competing destinations like the Philippines and Thailand, where safety issues hurt their reputations as tourist spots.
It’s important to protect Guam’s image as a safe, family-friendly destination so that our visitor industry grows. Guam welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors in 2016, and we plan to keep up that momentum.
Can you guess what the No. 1 travel motivation was for visitors from Japan and Korea in 2016? It was a “recommendation from friends and family” and the key to receiving a positive endorsement always starts with safety. You can be sure that a visitor who is robbed or injured while on vacation is not likely to be singing your praises, especially on social media.
We care about the safety and security of not only visitors but the local community as well. As the heart of our economic engine, Tumon not only hosts thousands of visitors every day, but also thousands of hard-working tourism employees. Our residents love running along San Vitores after work and enjoying Tumon beaches on the weekends. What’s good for the people of Guam is good for our visitors too.
To that end, GVB has several programs to enhance the safety of our destination. Our key initiative is the Visitor Safety Officer Program, which creates a strong safety presence for visitors and residents by working with the Guam Police Department. Launched in October 2014, the program started with the Tumon Bay area.
Visitor safety officers have multipurpose roles as concierges, security officers and tour guides. They deter crime while responding to various situations, from graffiti to illegal parking. They keep Guam a family-friendly destination by addressing disturbances, indecent exposure, public indecency and public intoxication.
The program also moves quickly to address potential hazards in Tumon. Visitor safety officers remove debris, garbage and hazards, as well as inspect bus stops, crosswalks, sidewalks, streetlights and traffic lights. Before and after Typhoon Dolphin, they helped mitigate damage by reporting issues and securing hazardous areas. They also provide water safety with beach patrols and now lifeguarding services.
Just as important, visitor safety officers provide basic visitor information to help our guests enjoy their stay. In fiscal 2016, they provided traffic assistance 2,971 times, gave directions 5,270 times and assisted visitors with taking photos 4,559 times.
We appreciate the hard work and hospitality of the visitor safety officers. When you see one (they’re hard to miss with their yellow shirts), don’t be shy. They love taking pictures, so be sure to get a selfie with them.
Nathan Denight is president and CEO of the Guam Visitors Bureau. Email him at [email protected]