By MILTON MORINAGA
How do you think the governments in the various tourist markets that are important to Guam and Saipan are handling their own coronavirus challenges? (number of cases reducing, drive-thru testing etc.)
We can look to Korea’s response as an example. It was quick and thorough and as a result they were able to quickly mobilize and test for the virus in order to isolate individuals. They provided a great deal of information on measures to combat the spread of the virus. Guam’s order to quarantine all incoming visitors will hopefully help mitigate the spread of the virus.
On the other hand, Japan’s response to controlling the spread of the virus is in complete contrast to Korea’s. Japan has the ability to test, but thus far have not done much testing, which accounts for the low numbers of confirmed cases. Japan also has a shortage of hospital beds should this blow up.
Now that the Olympics have been postponed, we will probably see more measures such as restricting gathering of large events. They are hoping this will help stop the spread of the virus as they struggle to trace the clusters. Additionally, Japan will require any arrivals from the United States to go into a 14-day quarantine.
China’s information regarding their decrease in cases remains questionable, and I am unable to comment about it at this time.
The United States lags behind other countries in their efforts to contain the virus. There is no clear strategy.
I believe Korea is the model to follow, as they were successful in slowing the spread of the virus by testing a large portion of their population.
Mostly, the governments in those markets – particularly Korea and Japan have been transparent and shared information. We are beginning to see more detailed information come out in Guam and Saipan. Do you think sharing information is important?
Yes, I believe transparency is very important. It is important for the public to know what is happening, as everyone is worried and if they do not have official, factual information, rumors and false information will spread. Transparency in these uncertain times is critical and communication with the public important in reducing panic and allaying fears.
We are seeing indications that China may be the first market to allow its citizens to travel – though within China at this point. Do you think this will be a test case for travel?
Although we are hearing from the Chinese government that numbers have decreased and no new cases are appearing, I am still a little uncomfortable with having their citizens travel until such time that a vaccine is made available to combat the virus for certain.
What prediction can you make as to when the worldwide travel market will recover?
The travel and hospitality industry will take a long time to recover. Before travel can commence again, the economy will have to recover. International travel may take even longer to recover as people may choose to stay closer to home. Further, a weakened economy will mean shorter vacations. I am confident we will recover; however, people will need to feel comfortable and secure financially before spending money on travel.
When the need for hospitality comes, can Guam respond quickly?
Yes, the island will be ready as always. We need the airlines to deploy quickly to carry people from Japan and Korea. As long as Guam’s labor forces are ready, the hotels will be ready. Unfortunately, the same may not hold true for the smaller optional tours as they may not survive due to the many days of no revenue they are experiencing at the present time.
We are in unchartered territory; news and updates regarding COVID-19 are changing by the minute. No doubt the next few months will continue to be challenging, but I am sure as an island and community, we will get through this together. mbj
— Milton Morinaga is the managing director of PHR Ken Micronesia Inc., which does business as Ken Corp. He can be reached at