BY KISHA ONEDERA GARRIDO
The Guam Visitors Bureau, in partnership with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans, recently announced the launch of the Marine Tour Operator certification program. GVB said in a recent release that the program is being offered free of charge as an extension of its existing Tour Guide Certification course, which has been in existence since 1997. According to GVB, the program’s goal is to facilitate the growth of Guam’s tour operators and provide a powerful tool to encourage a safe and sustainable experience for residents and visitors. In addition, the GVB release noted that the MTO course is self-paced and available online; however, learning modules are available to those who do not have internet access or who are not tech-savvy. These accessible learning opportunities are a great way to expand the program’s inclusivity and encourage more participation.
The MTO program was the result of a year-long collaboration between GVB and BSP. This partnership showcases how teamwork and the sharing of resources can contribute to great business and community programs. It would be great to see more organizations come together and pull their collective resources to improve and serve our island efficiently.
Guam’s natural beauty is one of the most endearing qualities that attract visitors and residents alike. People want to enjoy our pristine waters and explore the sea life that is teeming beneath the surface. However, we should all enjoy the benefits of living and working in paradise with the knowledge and understanding that we all have a shared responsibility to protect and preserve it for future generations.
Environmental protection has been heavily discussed through the years, with many businesses seeking opportunities to adapt to more sustainable and environmentally conscious practices. Implementing programs that encourage the care of our island environment can help cultivate awareness in all sectors of our business community, promoting good stewardship of our island and its resources.
I am thrilled to see the launch of a program that is catered to the business sector.
The MTO certification program is another way to help encourage responsibility by educating those that want to showcase our marine environment. The curriculum developed by BSP and GVB will cover professional standards, marine biology information, safety guidance, and strategies for reef-safe marine tourism. Both agencies also asked the University of Guam’s Sea Grant program to be a third-party reviewer to provide feedback on the course curriculum.
Creating standards and welcoming interested participants to become certified marine tour operators is an excellent opportunity to promote good management of our island’s marine resources and encourage the growth of Guam’s tour operator sector. The great thing about this course is that it is absolutely free, as it is currently funded through BSP and the Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. This support has made it easier and accessible for businesses to invest in themselves and their community by taking care of the costs.
When participants finish the course and pass the exam to be an official GVB marine tour operator, they will get a certificate of completion and official badge credentials. If you are interested, I highly encourage you to stop by GVB to enroll in this program or provide feedback on how we can continue promoting protection of our marine assets by emailing
[email protected] mbj