Tourism updates:

The Guam Visitors Bureau will not attend the 2022 Japan Association of Travel Agents expo from Sept. 22 to 25 at the Tokyo Big Sight, officially known as the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.

Gerald S.A. Perez, vice president of GVB; told the Journal, “We may not have enough money to be there in the right way.”

The bureau has not yet reached out to its membership concerning JATA, but some members have already made their own plans to attend JATA, they told the Journal. Following the Journal’s enquiry, GVB said it would be informing members it would not be going to JATA.

GVB, the Japan-Guam Travel Association and United Airlines did bring 50 Japanese travel agents, media and other travel trade representatives to Guam in June. GVB also took to the road in July to Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, and again in August to Okayama Prefecture to visit with dignitaries and for a Guam road show in Fukuoka.

The Northern Mariana Islands Marianas Visitors Authority will be attending JATA 2022, according to Priscilla M. Iakopo, managing director.

MVA had a delegation in Japan in July ahead of the coming resumption of flights from Japan, when United launches the Narita-Saipan route on Sept. 1. The MVA delegation met with JATA’s president and other JATA officials during the July visit.  

In other GVB news, Perez said he has given the members of the GVB board an update of his review of the statutes and bylaws, which is with GVB’s attorneys, he said. “It’s coming along,” he said. Perez was tasked with the review following a schism between the board and GVB President Carl T.C. Gutierrez. The board has not met since it voted in May not to meet, and to hire its own legal representation, following accusations of board members acting in their own self-interests by Gutierrez.

Neither the Japan Marketing Committee – chaired by Milton Morinaga, who is also chairman of the board – nor the Korean Marketing Committee – chaired by Ho S. Eun, have met either. The Korean Marketing Committee has a meeting scheduled for Aug. 16.

Visitor arrivals to Palau in July (excluding residents, students, employment arrivals, flight crews and transits) totaled 1,113, representing an increase of 280% compared to July 2021 with 293 arrivals and an increase of 11.3% compared to June 2022. USA/Canada remains the leading market representing 64% of arrivals, followed by Others with 13%, then Europe representing 12% of arrivals.

In July 2019, Palau saw 7,084 visitors.

In July, passengers arriving were returning citizens, essential workers, and tourists, according to an Aug. 11 release from the Palau Visitors Authority. Flights increased to six times weekly, with five United flights from Guam and one United flight from the Philippines.

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported 34% average occupancy among its 12 member hotels for July, compared to 16% average occupancy in July 2021. A total of 15,232 of 45,259 available room nights sold during July, compared to 6,042 of 36,753 available rooms sold in July 2021. Average room rates were $158.33 compared to $148.69 last July, according to an Aug. 11 release from HANMI. The “small spike” was attributed to the Pacific Mini Games.

HANMI reported an 82.30% average occupancy among its 11-member hotels in July 2019, with average room rates at $153.46.

 

NMI updates:

Speaking at a news briefing hosted on KKMP radio on Aug. 12, Northern Mariana Island officials were delighted at the launch of Marianas Southern Airways, which had its inaugural flight to Tinian Aug. 12 and is due to fly to Rota on Aug. 15.

Beginning Aug. 12, Tinian is hosting the second annual Tinian Beef, Beer, & Bands Festival starts today. The NMI has brought back or introduced a variety of events, which also include for the foreseeable future Hafa Adai-Tirow cultural events on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Aug. 2 in Garapan. MVA is providing funding for entertainment. The event also features the Carolinian Affairs Office’s Project Liffang, where local artists and craftspeople can sell local products.

Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres told the Journal, “These are events and activities to showcase and welcome visitors across our tourist industry.” He urged members of the NMI Legislature to look at new revenue-generating ideas that would support tourism as the commonwealth prepared for Japanese tourists.

In addition, Torres said that he would welcome additional interest from Guam on the latest capital improvement project or for “every RFP that we have.” Bids are due Sept. 1 for infrastructure and construction for the Garapan Revitalization project. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration is funding an $11.2 million grant for the project. 

David DLG. Atalig, secretary of finance; said since the first batch of $500 stimulus cards had been mailed out to taxpayers and their dependents, about 4,000 more had been ordered. “We are not holding back. We are ordering every week,” he said. He told the Journal about 32,000 taxpayers will receive stimulus payments for a total of about $25 million. It will be “pretty much everyone, because there’s no income limit.”

Aside from a new grant program announced on Aug. 10 that will be open to businesses in the entertainment industry – which Atalig anticipated would assist about 150 businesses – he said the administration had identified a lot of funding sources, as well as assistance through the Small Business Development Center. “What we have is a lot of resources for entrepreneurs,” Atalig said. The administration had earlier set aside $10 million for small businesses from ARPA funding. “The whole idea is to generate investment,” he said, with the resultant return on that of tax revenues to the government.

Commonwealth Utility Corp. payments for ratepayers of $300 per month for three months would be ready within a week or so, Atalig said.

 

Airline to offer website with personal travel options and incentives

United Airlines will launch “in late 2022” United for Business Blueprint, to allow corporate customers to design travel to include offerings such as higher status in United’s loyalty programs including United Corporate Preferred; reserving more spacious seats in Economy Plus and wi-fi access; and incentives like discounts on leisure travel for employees, the airline said in an Aug. 11 release from Chicago.

 

Grant to establish Guam food bank

Guam will receive $338,540 to establish its first food bank from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development grants. The funds will be used to retrofit, equip and cover initial operating expenses for the food bank. Funding will be used for various equipment including refrigeration storage equipment, a back-up generator, cargo van, miscellaneous equipment and for a start-up operating budget to establish and operate the food bank.

USDA’s Rural Development Under Secretary announced Aug. 11 in Washington, D.C. that “USDA is awarding $74 million to improve health care facilities” across the U.S. “The grants will help 143 rural health care organizations expand critical services for 3 million people in 37 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The investments include $32 million for 67 rural health care organizations to help more than 1 million people living in socially vulnerable communities,” the release said.

 

Organization offers training for fledgling businesses

The Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association will host free training and mentorship programs “aimed to provide restaurants and food trucks with the skills needed to expand and sustain operations,” the association said in an Aug. 12 update to members.

An information session will be held at Capitol Kitchen on Airport Road on Aug. 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Training will cover forms and registration for traing on the health certificate, BTA pesticides, TIPS RASSA (related to sale and consumption of alcohol) restaurant servers and safety.

The training and certification programs are through the Guam Economic Development Authority’s Qualifying Certificate Community Contribution Grant Program for Series 3 and Series 5, funded by the Guam Regional Medical City as the Qualifying Certificate Community Contributor.

 

Groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings:

Aug. 15 – Dock and Shoreline Reinforcement project of the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association Facility at the Gregorio D. Perez Marina, Hagatna

 

And also:

The Commonwealth Healthcare Center in Saipan has updated its protocols for visitors, incoming patients and visitors. For further details see https://www.chcc.health; or call (670) 234-8950. A press release from Aug. 11 with detailed information is at https://www.chcc.health/pressrelease.php.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for kindergarten through 12th grades of schools as per Aug. 12 CHamoru Standard Time, lifting the requirement to quarantine if exposed to COVID, and removing the recommendation for testing after potential exposure.

Find the guildance here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-childcare-guidance.html

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, the Guam Fire Department, the Guam Police Department, and Naval Base Guam conducted a search and rescue exercise in Guam on Aug. 10 and Aug. 11.

Junior Achievement of Guam is accepting registrations for this year’s Company of the Year program. Registration for high school students interested in learning how to start and run a business can be found online at ja-guam.org or https://bit.ly/3djxTeE. Each team will be mentored by a local sponsoring company, meeting weekly,  to guide students in the 12 week program.

The annual kickoff is on Sept. 10 at Guam Community College.

 

For your diary:

Toghe Inc. and WestCare Pacific Islands will host the 2022 Veteran Wellness Symposium from Aug. 15 to 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Guam National Guard Readiness Center in Barrigada. Contact WestCare at (671) 472-0218 for further details and registration. mbj