Economy Grows in 2013; Calvo Preps Administration to Sustain Growth

February 4, 2014

NOTE: The following is a joint release from Governor Calvo, the Guam Visitors Bureau, the Guam Economic Development Authority, and the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority.

“Perpetuating our culture is one of our priorities, and it's what sets us apart from our competition. Today, we present to you Tourism 2020, a detailed plan to bring more tourists to Guam, create more jobs for Guamanians, and ultimately bring more money to Guam as a premier tourist destination! It's a collaborative effort that includes GEDA and the Airport who continue to bring new ideas and enhance old ones.” -Governor Eddie Calvo

Governor Calvo, Visitors Bureau, Economic Development Authority, Airport join to announce plans for Guam’s future economy   

Our economy is growing, with back-to-back banner years in tourism arrivals, and with more jobs than last year.  Now, more than ever, it’s important to sustain this growth and plan for an even better future.  Today, we release to you important information about Guam’s future:

·       The Governor’s economic policies are working, creating jobs and sustaining growth.

·       1.334 million tourists visited Guam last year, making 2013 the 4th best year in tourism on Guam.

·       For the first time in Guam history, tourism is truly diverse, with the Korean, Chinese, and Russian markets making huge gains

·       Foreign investment into Guam is growing.

·       Construction activity in the government is expanding capacity; and

·       20,000 Guamanians have jobs because of tourism.

Calvo: Opportunity to build a strong economic future is now 

Governor Calvo brought three of his economic agencies together to update the public on the success of 2013, and how we will move forward with growth this year.  The policies to build on 2013’s success include the Governor’s Tourism 2020 plan, airport expansion, and small business support.  He warned that, unless we invest in a vision, we will squander this opportunity to create more careers.

“We were in a similar position 20 years ago, with a strong tourism industry.  What happened after was unfortunate.  Lack of planning and investments made without a vision for the future turned a short-term boom into a long-term bust.  Our visitor industry is now strong again, and this is the perfect time to learn from the mistakes of the past and build a better future filled with jobs for every Guamanian, and a world-class destination that is second-to-none,” Governor Calvo said.

GVB unveils ‘Tourism 2020’ plan for Guam’s future 

Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA), and the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority (GIAA) held a joint media conference this afternoon in a landmark of Guam tourism: the SandCastle.

GVB Board Chairman Mark Baldyga unveiled the Governor’s new strategic plan, called “Tourism 2020” at the event.  This eight-point strategy will ensure tourism continues to grow, and Guam’s brand is elevated to a “world class, first tier resort destination of choice, offering a U.S. island paradise for 2 million business and leisure visitors from around the region.  With accommodations and activities ranging from value to five-star luxury – all in a safe, clean, family-friendly environment and set amidst a unique 4,000 year old culture.”

The eight goals of Tourism 2020 are:

1.    Improve Quality in order to Improve Yield.  This includes cleaning up Tumon, making Guam safer for visitors, improving the airport, and establishing a “business improvement district” in Tumon with defined rules and regulations.

2.    Grow Arrivals and Diversify.  This includes aggressively pursuing Russia, China, and other emerging markets; a continued push for a China Visa Waiver; and targeting Chinese visitors without the need of a visa waiver.

3.    Add Hotel Rooms.  The overall goal is to add 1,200 new rooms by 2020.  In order to accomplish this, GVB will pursue meaningful and significant tax incentives for businesses looking to invest $100 to $200 million for the construction of new, five-star resorts.  GVB will also seek short-term incentives to renovate and upgrade existing hotel properties.

4.    Focus on Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) Market.  This new group-based market can help Guam during traditionally slow visitor periods.  The under-construction Dusit Thani will feature Guam’s largest ballroom when it opens, increasing Guam’s capacity to host large conferences.  GVB has already reached out to its Japan office to begin attracting MICE markets to Guam.

5.    Actively promote the Chamorro culture.  GVB believes this goal is not only the right thing to do; it also makes business sense.  Our 4,000 year-old culture, our Chamorro people, and our unique multi-cultural Chamorro, Spanish & American heritage, are what make Guam unique compared to our competition who also offer sun, sand and sea.  GVB seeks to incorporate our culture from the moment of arrival to the moment of departure.

6.    Extend the Average Length of Stay.  The average length of stay for Guam’s visitors is three days.  This means increasing the average by just one day will mean a 33 percent increase in hotel occupancy, tax revenues related to tourism, and overall tourism-related economic activity—all without raising any taxes.

7.    Promote our Unique Attractions.  Guam currently has more than 100 attractions for our tourists to enjoy—more than our regional destination competitors.  These activities are diverse, including marine sports, SCUBA diving, golf, skydiving, deep sea fishing, submarine rides, flying lessons, day tours, eco and jungle hiking tours and much more.  This plan outlines GVB’s mission to develop more high quality, large-scale attractions and better promote our unique offerings.

8.    Extend Tourism Beyond Tumon.  GVB will work toward our Governor’s vision of a revitalized Hagåtña.  It will also continue to encourage our tourism partners to support local farmers and fishermen -- extending the reach and benefits of tourism across the entire island.

New GVB events launching this year  

The Guam Visitors Bureau is also using the momentum from the Tourism 2020 launch to push forward exciting new signature events in 2014.

From February 1 to March 15, the #GuamLove campaign will expand on Valentine's Day and Japan's White Day. Building on the success of the Holiday Illumination Project and Christmas Village, a GuamLove Light Park is also being featured across from the Hyatt Resort. In addition, a social media contest on facebook is part of the campaign to encourage everyone to experience "the year of love."

At the beginning of summer, GVB will launch the first Guam Music Festival. The large-scale event will feature local talent and two headliners to draw thousands of people. More details will be forthcoming as the festival draws closer.

Of course, the community can expect the return of GVB's signature events, which include:

–      Guam Ko’ko’ Kids Run (March 23)

–      Guam International Marathon (April 13)

–      Guam Micronesia Island Fair (April 25-27)

–      Guam Ko’ko’ Half Marathon & Ekiden Relay (October)

GVB is also pleased with the launch of their new global website, and corporate website to reflect Guam's transformation into the world-class destination of choice. 


Airport provides project details for largest expansion in its history  

GIAA also had a remarkable year in 2013.  Specifically, the airport saw an increase in charter flights and airline services, including:

·      Sky Mark, operating charter flights in March during non-peak hours

·      Star Flyer, operating twice-a-week charter services from Kitkyushu, Japan

·      Korean Airlines, which began a new charter service from the un-served market of Busan twice-a-week

·      China Airlines, operating new charter flights in May 2014

·      Oren Air, currently operating weekly charter flights from Russia, an emerging market for the island

“If there's one thing I've learned as the Executive Manager of the Guam Airport Authority, it's that the aviation industry is a fluid one, constantly changing. The millions of dollars in renovations, and development, and expansion are an investment into not only the Airport, but our island and our community. Once completed, the Guam Airport Authority is poised to become not only a regional powerhouse, but a global one as well,” GIAA Executive Manager Chuck Ada said.

The most recent addition to the Guam Airport last year was Lotte Guam Duty Free, the largest retail concession agreement in the Airport's history. It guaranteed $154 million in revenue for the Airport, including an additional  $23 million in capital improvements performed by Lotte, to include renovations to the Airport food court and restroom facilities and the installation of a modern children’s play area.

Improvements are not just being made inside the airport terminal, but outside the facilities as well. In 2013, work got underway to rehabilitate and extend both the airport’s primary and secondary runways.  This project brings us closer to having the capability to service those long haul, fully loaded flights, as well as accommodate direct service to the U.S. West Coast.

GEDA announces first-ever Guam Economic Symposium

The Guam Economic Development Authority announced plans for the first ever Guam Economic Symposium at this joint media conference. This landmark event will be held this summer.

The symposium will highlight many of the islands economic opportunities, and will bring in key players and investors from throughout the region and the world.  The symposium will focus on a variety of issues, to include military buildup, industry development, infrastructure, construction, aviation, and tourism.  GEDA will also use this opportunity to focus on the island's real estate, with a big emphasis placed on the goal to add more hotel rooms- with an emphasis on 5 star resort type hotel facilities.


Dates and the location for the event will be announced soon.