Welcoming back the Japan market sector to the Mariana Islands will take more than an exceedingly warm welcome from the visitor industries in Guam and Saipan.
The challenges are multiple and each of them counts.
They lie not only in securing the all-important flights, but ensuring flights are sustainable at a time where aviation fuel is only likely to increase, with those costs being passed on to passengers.
Our airports need attractive restaurants for departing visitors.
The yen against the dollar, the rising cost of living are all part of the current circumstances that makes travel a price-sensitive decision.
Guam and Saipan also will have work to do on the ground.
The islands will need to ensure that visitors have a positive experience – that tourist areas are continuously well-maintained beyond beach and road cleanups.
Japanese visitors may have varied expectations – our beaches remain a wonderful attraction and golf courses are open in both destinations.
Our retail outlets are in recovery mode and malls are open, but retailers also suffer from the shortage of labor or experienced labor.
Plus, tourists are accustomed to shopping a lot earlier than 11 a.m. – the current prevalent opening hour in Guam’s malls.
Still, our tourism stakeholders deserve congratulations.
The worst thing the islands can do is nothing. From the political leadership, through our civic organizations we must support the tourism market as our visitors come back to us.
Congratulations are due to those those organizations that are stepping up – the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Marianas Visitors Authority are taking to the road – as they should.
Our tourism offices must give our visitor market partners the assurance that our islands are not only safe from COVID, but for tourists who like to explore on foot – sometimes at night.
Businesses that provide activities for tourists have been the most-hard hit of all. Let’s ensure that our visitors know that they are there as they re-open.
In the private sector, from United Airlines to DFS to P.H.R. Ken, to hotel facilities, to restaurants we see re-openings, openings and congratulate you all. That sort of positivity, activity and bustle is reassuring to visitors.
And it brings confidence in business investment. mbj