A simple sign was tucked into the box office window at Micronesia Mall’s movie theatres on May 20 announcing a 75¢ discount for military customers.

The quiet start to a surprisingly successful promotion at Tango Inc. which does business as Micronesia Mall Theaters underlined the importance of military customers to businesses on Guam.

On that Thursday Tango joined Wallace Theaters which operate movie theaters at Guam Premier Outlets in offering a discount to any moviegoer with a military ID card.

The Micronesia Mall discount applies to general admission which at Tango Theatres is normally $7.25. With the discount the cost of admission with a military ID is $6.50.
Shelly Gibson director of group sales marketing promotions and special events at Tango said Tango Inc. wanted to extend this discount to the military community as a token of gratitude.

“We had quite a few requests from the military community for discount. We’ve had people come up to the window asking if we have a military rate. Even though we didn’t have it they wouldn’t walk away — they still would buy a ticket. I’d like to thank them for their business.”

Gibson said the response to the discount notice had been almost immediate.

“We had a tremendous response. We just posted a small sign in the box office window around 6 p.m. on Thursday evening and by 9 p.m. we had maybe over 100 military ticket sales.”

“Clearly there are economic benefits that come from the military community ” Gibson said. “It results in additional hours for the Tango theatre staff and additional purchases from our concession vendors. Those increases work to our advantage. I feel the military is a good customer to have and we appreciate them.”

A further expansion of the military here is just what Guam might see. Come mid-December the third Los Angeles class fast-attack submarine the USS Houston will arrive on Guam to join its two other sister submarines the USS City of Corpus Christi and the USS San Francisco. With the arrival of the Houston the personnel of Submarine Squadron 15 including the Frank Cable surface ship will swell to 1 550. Dependents of the USS Houston crew will number approximately 200 to 300. The Navy also told the Journal on May 12 there is a possibility that three more submarines may be relocated to Guam.

The Navy population as of March 2004 stands at 3 903 active duty Navy personnel and 3 456 Department of Defense civilian Navy staff. The total military presence on Guam is 6 093 personnel a figure that includes 2 168 Air Force active duty personnel and 403 Department of Defense civilian Air Force staff Army personnel and the Marines.

Were Guam to receive a carrier strike group and an air wing when the repositioning of U.S. military in the Pacific region is decided it is estimated that more than 5 000 officers and enlisted personnel would bring additional annual salaries to Guam of more than $420 million.

Lt. Arwen E. Consaul public affairs officer for U.S. Naval Forces Marianas told the Journal the Navy contributes directly when contracting for services and construction Consaul said “And indirectly through expenditures by personnel and family members stationed in or visiting Guam. The Navy currently has nearly 4 000 personnel and 1 400 civilian employees on island with roughly a 1:1 ratio of family members. These numbers do not include commands or personnel that are visiting or deployed to Guam and do not include contract employees.”

Lief E. Echols director of the Morale Welfare and Recreation department said “MWR programs provide active-duty reserve and retired Navy personnel and their families with sports and physical fitness activities child development and youth programs and a variety of food and beverage services.

Echols said a number of Guam businesses contributed to Navy programs and fund-raisers and offered discount certificates in place of military discounts or for special events. He said “We deal with many local businesses for commercial sponsorship — most of the local hotels Hotel Santa Fe Marriott Pacific Islands Club Holiday Inn and Hilton to name a few. He said commercial sponsorship was also from “Local restaurants such as Tony Roma’s Pizza Hut McDonald’s and Dominoes and various other businesses such as Shimbros Atlantis Submarine AT&T Underwater World Planet Hollywood and Gameworks. ”

The Navy Fleet and Family Support Center provides “Island Orientation Tours ” in which personnel and families in the military who are new to Guam can learn about the attractions the island has to offer from diving and snorkeling to shopping and night life.

Guam Industrial Services which does business as Guam Shipyard on May 27 watched the USS Frank Cable sail after completing an extensive dry-docking that employed about 600 skilled workers over the past four months. About 225 of them were imported workers who filled the Santa Fe Inn on the Bay and MaiAna Airport Hotel and rented more than 100 cars during their stay. Most left in the last week of May except for about 50 from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard who came specifically to work on the ship’s electrical system.

2nd Lt. Genieve N. David deputy public affairs officer for the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen Air Force Base said Andersen’s 36th Family Support Center provides newcomers with booklets pamphlets and magazines that are provided by the Guam Visitors Bureau and local publishers.

She said the relationship between Andersen and the Guam business community has been very positive and supportive. Squadron and the visitors bureau teamed up to offer commercial opportunities to local businesses and a sales opportunity to military personnel and their families.

She said “The 36th Services Squadron in cooperation with the Guam Visitors Bureau annually holds Guam Summer Happenings. This gives local businesses in the recreation and leisure arenas a venue to showcase their services activities and products to the entire Andersen community. Guam Summer Happenings held May 14 exceeded 500 attendees.

The Services Squadron David said “Also sells consignment items such as paintings and jewelry designed by local artists at the Skills Development Center on base. The Skills Development Center also holds a craft fair twice a year where local vendors can sell their items. They also have discount tickets for local tours water parks and restaurants hotels and cruises.”

James L. Adkins president of East-West Rental Center and chairman of the Armed Forces Committee of the Chamber of Commerce said the military was one of the drivers of Guam’s economy and the island’s “No. 2 industry.”

“It’s like standing on one foot with the tourist industry; and we have to stand on two feet with one foot on tourism and the other foot on the military in order to be stable.”

Manfred H. Pieper general manager of the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa and chairman of the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association said “Ideally 60% of our business is driven by tourism 30% by military and 10% by the local community.”

Pieper said a military presence always has an economic effect. “Communities all over the world even on the mainland are fighting to keep the military presence. It provides jobs income taxes into the local government additional retail and other services we have to offer.” Pieper said in Guam in addition the military community occupied rooms on arrival and in transit and consumed food and beverages.

Consaul said Guam’s communities have close ties to the U.S. Navy and demonstrated patriotism and hospitality. “Guam has a reputation throughout the Navy as a great temporary home and liberty port for sailors.”

Gibson said “Obviously we can’t give everything away but where we can why not support not just the military personnel but their families as well. I support the military and would like to extend a big thank you to the military community — and offering this discount is what we decided to do.” MBJ