HAGÅTÑA Guam and CAIRNS Australia — A sister-city relationship between Guam and Cairns in Northern Queensland is moving forward after a two-year hiatus.
Building ties between communities of similar size interests and goals is often a social relationship between communities in two countries.
In this case officials in Cairns and Guam said the relationship would be used to spur economic development.
A foundation twinning Cairns and Guam is the vehicle for developing a sister- city relationship which is planned to bring opportunities in a number of economic cultural and educational arenas.
Alexander C. “Sandy” Whyte executive officer of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce spoke exclusively with the Journal following a reception held Feb. 28 to welcome Guam media representatives at the Cairns Matson Hotel & Resort. He said “We have a great interest in Guam now whereas four years ago there did not seem to be much interest. Because of increased travel between Guam and Cairns it is time to take the idea off the shelf dust it off and move it forward.”
Margaret Gill deputy mayor of Cairns and divisional councillor is chairperson of the sister-city program for Cairns City Council. Gill said she thought the Guam and Cairns connection would be a good linkage. She said “Due to the close proximity and ease of access — and other weather and topography similarities — it would be a win-win situation for both of our communities.”
Gill said a memorandum of understanding signed during a mutual visit is the first step to forging a sister-city relationship. “The MOU lists general categories of activities which would form the basis of the [sister city] relationship. It could also list specific activities that would occur and is usually set for a specific period — say five years — to evaluate the success of the activities.”
Whyte told the Journal that Guam and Cairns came close to signing an agreement two years ago but a number of natural and man-made problems all but halted the process and the relationship was not cemented.
“We were planning to move ahead with the sister-city concept with Guam but then there were several terrible storms that hurt Guam as well as the SARS scares and the Iraqi war so the time just was not right.”
Guam and Cairns already have established the foundation of a mutually beneficial economic relationship.
Whyte said he had organized several trips to Guam in the past. These had included participation in the Pacific Hotel & Restaurant Expo in 2001 and 2002. Guam satellite maps . The hope had been to foster relationships in the hospitality industry that would provide Australian companies the opportunity to act as a goods supplier. “The groups we have taken up [to Guam] in the past have continued their relationships and now have agents or representatives going directly into Guam businesses and are doing their own thing.”
These companies included Curry’s Catering Equipment Birdies of Australia CT Joinery and Marlin Sportswear.
There are no plans for Cairns to attend this year’s PHARE or other business shows but as the relationship continues to prosper Whyte said resources were readily available to once again showcase Cairns in the future on Guam.
“We work on the philosophy that we [Cairns Chamber of Commerce] provide the framework to bring business export hopefuls to a location like Guam — whether it’s a trade show or expo — and provide basically the organizing and networking availabilities ” Whyte said. “While business has slowed over the past two years it is time now to do a smaller exhibition — say at the Micronesian Mall Center Court — to raise awareness and arrange meetings in new areas that can stimulate new linkages in the areas of health and medical opportunities as well as cross-promoting tourism-related options.”
He said Guam’s tourists are often members of the business community and possible opportunities in Cairns are of interest to them during vacations. “The challenge for us is that while people do come here for leisure or holiday activities they are aware of what can be done here with business opportunities. Part of that is making the profile of this chamber higher so as a matter of course during their stay they drop in and say hello. The sister-city relationship would only help to provide that opportunity.”
Gill noted two other areas where the cities could compliment each other in the near future. “ The first is education especially with school children having mutual exchanges on an annual basis.” The second being cultural “Particularly with the Islander [Chamorro] and Aboriginal cultures. Also mutual visits by regional artists both in the performing and visual arts would work perfectly.”
Gill said interest following a sister-city relationship was either “financially motivated or philosophically motivated and I believe the best way is a combination of both. Any activities such as part sponsoring of a group of students visiting Cairns would initially be philosophic in nature but would be rewarded financially in the future with benefits flowing back from the students when they returned home.”
Walter B. Dias staff vice president of sales and marketing for Continental Micronesia said he understood the importance of Continental Micronesia flights to the development of the relationship. subdomains Flights between Guam and Australia began in 1998.
Dias said of the sister-city proposal “We are always looking for opportunities to grow the airline and maximizing what has become a very good relationship between Guam and Cairns is something we would support and welcome.”
Continental Micronesia services the Guam-Cairns route three times weekly with a 737-800 aircraft that Dias said is generally fully booked on each flight in both directions.
Gill said Cairns is in the process of re-vamping its sister city process at this time. “Cairns currently has five sister cities only two of which could be said to be active. This is why we have established a protocol of an MOU to establish that each potential sister city has meaningful opportunities to offer each other and the wherewithal and desire to forge these important links.”
Gov. Felix P. Camacho said he was very supportive of developing the Guam-Cairns sister city relationship and see it develop in a number of areas. “We support developing the sister city relationship in order to help share benefits through both financial and cultural exchanges and partnerships. I’ll be instructing GVB [Guam Visitors Bureau] and GEDCA [Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority] to get in touch with our counterparts in Cairns and restart what may have stalled so that we can foster and grow our ties.”
A group of Guam soccer players are set to play their first tournament in North Queensland with teams from Cairns and the surrounding area on April 27. The trip is being sponsored by the Guam Soccer Association and organizers said it is hoped this will be the first of what will become an annual exchange.
Other areas Cairns officials said would be logical exchanges are in the fields of information technology education and biotechnology. ask google . MBJ
|Guam sister cities|
Established in 1973
The longest standing sister city relationship. Records do not indicate who signed the agreement or when.
Toi Town Japan
Source: Guam Visitors Bureau
|Cairns sister cities|
Established in 1969
Both support and nurture the natural breeding cycle of turtles and have the coast in common. Regular contact is through cultural and educational visits.
Sidney British Columbia Canada
Lae Papua New Guinea