Hawaii gets good grades

Hawaii is not only benefitting from the pent-up desire for travel, but also earning a good reputation at the same time.

Despite challenges for some in the pre-testing process, 85% of visitors rated their trip “excellent,” while 94% said their trip either exceeded or met their expectations, according to a Feb. 1 release from the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Visitors from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii in the first two weeks of December were surveyed online between Dec. 21 and Jan. 4. Hawaii’s Safe Travels program allows most passengers arriving from out-of-state and traveling inter-county to bypass the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine with negative test results from an approved partner in Guam or the U.S. mainland.

In December 2020, visitor arrivals dropped 75.2% compared to a year ago, according to preliminary statistics released by HTA. A total of 235,793 visitors traveled to Hawaii by air, compared to 952,441 visitors who came by air service and cruise ships in December 2019.

Most of the visitors were from the U.S. West (151,988, -63.7%) and U.S. East (71,537, -66.8%). In addition, 3,833 came from Canada (-94.0%) and 1,889 visitors came from Japan (-98.6%).

There were 6,547 visitors from All Other International Markets (-93.8%).

Many of these visitors were from Guam, and a small number of visitors were from other Asian destinations, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, the Philippines and other Pacific Islands, according to HTA.

Total visitor days declined 66.9% compared to December 2019.

According to HTA, direct flights to Hawaii from most routes were cancelled; Guam-Honolulu with 11,284 seats was unchanged from December 2019.

Direct flights and quarantine regulations on return played a part in arrival numbers.

The survey is available at https://hawaiitourismauthority.org/media/6415/hta-visitor-covid-19-study.pdf.

As of Feb. 3, Hawaii has seen 26,070 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 410 deaths.


Guess who’s back in town

The USS Theodore Roosevelt returned to Guam this week, according to Journal sources. The aircraft carrier had been in the “South China Sea” since Jan. 24 on a scheduled deployment after leaving San Diego Dec. 23, according to the U.S. Navy. The ship was last in Guam in June.

As of press time, Joint Region Marianas did not confirm if the ship was on a Safe Haven port visit.

The visit coincides with the start of Cope North – which will run from Feb. 3 to Feb. 19 and the return of four B-52 bombers deployed from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (See www.mbjguam.com for the News Flash of Feb. 1).


Coffee grounds for class action suit

If your business or you purchased the Keurig K-Cups for coffee during the past decade from retailers other than Keurig, you may qualify for the Keurig K-Cup Class Action Settlement. This lawsuit has been pending since 2014. It alleges that Keurig monopolized and excluded competition to raise, fix, maintain, or stabilize the prices of Keurig K-Cup Portion Packs at artificially high levels in violation of the Sherman Act.

Keurig has not admitted wrongdoing but agreed to pay $31 million to settle the lawsuit. The exact amount of your settlement will depend on how many people file a claim, but will reimburse valid purchases in full. The dates covered in this settlement are:

Between Sept. 7, 2010, and Aug. 14, 2020, in all states and territories except Mississippi and Rhode Island; between March 24, 2011 and August 14, 2020 in Mississippi; and between July 15, 2013, and August 14, 2020 in Rhode Island. For more information, visit https://www.keurigindirectpurchasersettlement.com.

You will need proof of purchase and to file your claim before July 15 at https://secure.keurigindirectpurchasersettlement.com/.


Manila here we come (maybe)

Guam residents requiring emergency medical care are allowed to enter the Philippines on a case-by-case basis. 

The Office of the Governor’s Medical Referral Assistance Office, its Philippines medical referral coordinator, PhilMD, and St. Luke’s Medical Center’s International Business Relations Group are working closely with the Philippines Department of Health,, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Philippine Consulate Office in Guam, to coordinate medical emergency care for Guam residents, according to Feb. 2 release from the Office of the Governor.

For more information regarding medical emergency referral coordination for the Philippines, please visit or contact the PhilMD Office at 637-5433, Mobile Number 489-5433, or email [email protected].


Guam vaccination begins for the next lucky 10,000

According to the Office of the Governor about 10,000 people are in the 55 year to 59-year age group that began vaccination at Okkodo High School and the UOG Fieldhouse from Feb. 2 to 6, along with mayors, funeral, mortuary and cemetery staff and others.

For the first time, Guam residents were able to make appointments online – at Eventbrite, as well as at some private clinics and pharmacies.


SBA releases latest figures, FAQs for venue loan

To date, 126 Guam businesses have received Paycheck Protection loans in the second round of Small Business loans, for a total of $9,240,038, with 18 businesses in the Northern Mariana Islands receiving loans totaling $627,093, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

As at Jan. 31, more than 891,000 PPP loans totaling more than $72.7 billion have been approved. The application period is from Jan. 11 to March 31, with $284 billion allotted for this second phase of the program.

Philip J. Flores, president and CEO of BankPacific, told the Journal, “This round is different than the first one. The rules to qualify are a bit more strict, especially in regards to lost revenue metrics and priority for those who did not participate in the first round. Nonetheless, the demand nationwide is still strong and that includes in Guam too.”

The PPP program has been updated to now include eligibility for certain housing cooperatives, news organizations, section 501(c)(6) organizations, and Economic Injury Disaster Loan recipients.

“Some industries do not qualify for PPPs including banks and real estate companies (property owners, developers) but all companies in other industries that are allowed are applying,” Flores said.

According to the SBA, “The maximum for ‘second draw’ PPP loans is $2 million, less than the $10 million cap for PPP’s first round. As was the case with the original PPP, actual loan amounts will be based on an applicant’s payroll.”

This round is also a fully forgivable loan. The SBA requires borrowers to spend at least 60% of the funds on payroll over a covered period of either 8 or 24 weeks to receive full forgiveness; the other 40% may be used on eligible costs, including certain mortgage expenses, rent and utility payments.

According to the SBA:

  • About 68% of those PPP loans have been for $50,000 or less (and 81% for $100,000 or less). The average PPP loan size is $82,000, reinforcing that the smallest of small businesses are accessing the funding.
  • Approximately 75% of the PPP loans are Second Draw PPP loans, showing small businesses are returning to get this needed economic lifeline to keep their employees on payroll and support their business operations.

The SBA also released Jan. 27 FAQs for Shuttered Venues Operators grants.

According to the SBA, “Eligible entities may be live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives, per the Economic Aid Act. Additionally, entities of these types owned by state or local governments (for example, museums or historic homes) are eligible to apply if the governmentally-owned [sic] entity also acts solely as a venue operator, museum, etc. and not also include other types of entities.”

The FAQs can be found at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/2021-01/1-27-21%20SVOG%20FAQs-FINAL-508.pdfmbj