Ypao Road in Tamuning to close for construction

A full road closure will begin in October for Phase 1 of the reconstruction of Route 14B in Tamuning, also known as Ypao Road, according to a Sept. 6 release from the Guam Department of Public Works. InfraTech International is the contractor for the $8.5 million project, which will stretch from the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic to the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa, according to Journal files. Work will include construction and widening, adding bicycle lanes and curb gutters, new sidewalks, a storm drainage system, retaining walls, and utility relocations and will continue till May 2023.


Cross your fingers; NOAA estimates typhoons for Micronesia

The Guam Office of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued NOAA’s Tropical Cyclone Outlook for the remainder of 2022, which is “for below-normal activity for Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

“This outlook is a general guide to the predicted, overall TC activity across Micronesia and does not indicate how many of these systems will actually make landfall. However, the outlook does provide a general idea of how many tropical storms and/or typhoons could impact a specific island, or a group of islands across Micronesia, with peripheral effects such as strong, damaging winds, torrential rainfall and storm surge/inundation, NOAA said in a release received Sept. 7. See https://www.weather.gov/gum/Updated2022WestPacTropicalCycloneOutlook


Guam Visitors Bureau on the road and planning for board election

(From left) Yusuke Akiba, executive director; GVB Japan; Asami Onishi, commercial coordinator, Jetstar Japan Co. Ltd.; Shintaro Yamazaki, acting manager for network, government and airport, Jetstar Japan Co., Ltd.; Artemio “Ricky” Hernandez, deputy executive manager; A.B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam; Carl T.C. Gutierrez, president and CEO; GVB; Motohisa Abe, chief commercial officer, Jetstar Japan Co., Ltd.; Jun Ogasawara, commercial manager, Jetstar Japan Co., Ltd.; Frank R. Santos, principal consultant, Transportation Management Group; and Nobuyoshi Shoji, account director, GVB Japan.
Photo courtesy of the Guam Visitors Bureau

The bureau released details of its efforts in the Japan market on Sept. 7.

GVB representatives and representatives of the A.B. Won Pat International Airport Authority met with Jetstar Japan – a low-cost carrier that prior to the pandemic flew to Hong Kong, Manila, Taipei and Shanghai.

International routes accounted for only 4% of Jetstar business, but are expected to return, according to tourism industry experts.

The bureau said it had met with Jetstar six months earlier.

The bureau also said “the airport and GVB” met with the U.S Department of Transportation in Washington D.C. in August “to learn how Guam can utilize unused U.S. military plane slots at the Tokyo Haneda Airport. GVB and GIAA are seeking to branch out further to drive more air traffic to Guam by proposing new routes with foreign carriers through Haneda.”

On Sept. 8, the group was due to meet with U.S. Embassy officials in Tokyo, followed by meetings with the president and CEO of Tokyo International Air Terminal Corp. and the chairman of the board and CEO of Japan Air Terminal Co., Ltd., and meetings in Manila with Philippine Airlines “to further discuss prospects for expanded air service by PAL.”

GVB is due back in Japan to field a presence from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center – known as the Big Sight. GVB initially did not plan on attending the expo according to Journal files, but then advised the paper that funding had been allocated.

See https://www.mbjguam.com/2022/09/05/back-to-the-future-mva-and-gvb-head-out-to-promote-their-islands/

In other GVB news, the bureau has confirmed that elections will be held for an incoming 2023 board of directors.

GVB notified members on Sept. 7 that they should renew for the coming year for the second time, and included reference to the annual election in that notification.

In a statement the same day, Gerald S.A. Perez, vice president of GVB; told the Journal, “Yes, by law, there will be a Guam Visitors Bureau membership election, which is scheduled for January 3, 2023. The last day for GVB members to pay their dues and be in good standing to be eligible to vote for four members that will serve on the board of directors is 90 days prior to the election, or on October 5, 2022. GVB has every expectation of having a board of directors,” he said.

“The current board paused its meetings in May because its bylaws need to be harmonized with GVB’s enabling statute. This is being reviewed by the Business Risk and Control Committee. In addition to the president and CEO, the BRCC is chaired by myself and includes membership-elected Board Director Jeff Jones, legal counsel Joe McDonald, and Ron Aguon, a University of Guam professor of public administration and legal studies,” Perez said.

“About 80% of this review has been done and shared with the board. The initial findings report is available on GVB’s corporate website, guamvisitorsbureau.com. The BRCC expects to complete its review and recommendations to harmonize GVB’s bylaws and enabling legislation in several weeks before a new board is elected. That’s why it’s even more important for GVB members to renew their membership and be eligible to vote for the upcoming board election,” he said.

In the review, the committee tackles the issue of “fiscal authority” and “conflict of interest” – issues which are among reasons for the rift between the current board and GVB’s president, Carl T.C. Gutierrez, over allocations for marketing. Gutierrez said the board had been meeting in secret and that board members had a conflict of interest.

The report says, “Sec. 5 has a number of inconsistencies. Contractual authority arises pursuant to the Procurement Law, but no procurement authority has been conferred or imposed on the board. Procurement is an administrative procedure which places primary responsibility for contracts with the GM. However, Sec. 5 conflates the board’s fiscal authority under § 9113 (b) for yearly budget & plan approval and the board’s purchase order approval authority for expenditures under § 9111 then wrests away the GM’s administrative responsibility under § 9111 and purports to grant delegation of this administrative authority to the Board. Although all directors are subject to conflict of interests standards, elected directors are not subject to financial disclosure requirements that apply to appointed directors. This technically permissible nondisclosure creates risk that an elected director may violate the ethical standards because of an undisclosed interest in a vendor having a contract or agreement with the bureau. Moreover, because such conflicted elected director has no legal duty to disclose his interest, there are no controls over this risk. Taxpayer lawsuits, fraud/misrepresentation/ good faith & fair dealing claims, administrative enforcement of the GVB BRCC REPORT (AS OF 7/27/22) 8 PROVISION DESCRIPTION REVIEW/COMMENT ethical standards by the Ethics Commission, and or debarment of the vendor by the OPA may result. Sec. 5 should be amended or repealed.”

Readers can find the report here: https://guamvisitorsbureau.com/sites/default/files/memo_gvb_brcc_summary_report.pdf

Bill No. 276-36 – the fiscal 2023 budget bill for contained an unexpected provision that would allocate authority for the GVB budget to Gutierrez for fiscal 2023 – discussed at length on Aug. 31 at the 36th Guam Legislature’s final session on the government’s budget bill, with senators both for and against the measure, or advocating for a separate bill.

Readers can find Section 35 on Page 224 of the bill during the  third and final report at https://www.guamlegislature.com/36th_Guam_Legislature/Committee_Reports_36th A link to the Aug. 31 hearing on YouTube is also available on the site to hear comments by legislators. 

The budget bill – which passed nine votes to six – went to Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero that evening. She is expected to sign the bill, although that remains unconfirmed. 


Hotel association occupancy down creeps up, room rate close to pre-pandemic rate

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands reported a 33% average occupancy rate among its 12 member hotels for August, compared to a 12% average occupancy in August 2021. A total of 15,076 of 45,317 available room nights sold during August, compared to 4,281 of 36,759 available rooms sold in August 2021. Average room rates were $171.06 compared to $137.66 last August.

MVA expects “bookings to gradually increase,” according to a Sept. 6 release.

MVA’s Tourism Resumption Investment Plan is providing incentives to United Airlines, which began flying on the Saipan-Tokyo route three times weekly, with the first flight arriving in Saipan Sept. 2.

Occupancy rates were at 80.41% in August 2019, with an average room rate of $133.23, when HANMI had 11 members.

The Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association has not issued occupancy information since November 2020.

In other tourism news, on Sept. 7 Japan dropped the requirement for returning residents and visitors to take pre-travel COVID-19 tests.

However, a daily cap of 50,000 inbound travelers remains (up from 20,000) and visitors to Japan are still required to apply for a visa, which is unlikely to encourage inbound tourism.

In July, Japan saw 144,500 visitors – compared to 2.99 million in July 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.  The Keidanren – Japan’s business federation – had already expressed dismay at continuing restrictions, according to Journal files.


FSM citizens to vote on constitutional amendments

President David W. Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia has established a public education task force on the eight pending amendments to the FSM constitution, according to a Sept. 7 release. The amendments were adopted in June by the 4th Constitutional Convention and will appear on the upcoming ballot for the vacancy in Congress.

The eight proposed constitutional amendments include one on dual citizenship – of particular relevance to FSM citizens who serve in the U.S. armed forces. U.S. benefits are only available to U.S. citizens, currently resulting in those that wish to have benefits renouncing their FSM citizenship. See “Out of sight, out of mind: The U.S. veteran experience in the FSM,” in the May 2 issue of the Journal, or visit www.mbjguam.com The amendment allows dual citizenship and also will provide for those who renounced their FSM citizenship to restore it.

According to Journal files, about half of the U.S. veterans in the freely associated states are fully retired as U.S. citizens. The U.S. Veterans of Pohnpei told the Journal that although there is a mix of ages among veterans, most are “older folks who have spent more than 20 years in the military,” and served anywhere between the Vietnam War to Operation Enduring Freedom in the Middle East.

Other amendments relate to revenue sharing on fishing fees, the presidential veto override, revenue sharing of seabed resources, eligibility to run for Congress, jurisdiction of cases where an interest in land is at issue, establishment of a new FSM Office for Independent Prosecutor, and setting a new threshold for amending the FSM constitution.

Previous proposed amendments to the FSM constitution have not always passed.


And also:

Guam Community College will certify eight students for the first-ever Cybersecurity Boot Camp on Sept. 14. Three companies participated in the boot camp development: Quantum Technology Group, G4S, and Docomo Pacific, and in the process of hiring completers. The Guam Department of Labor’s Manpower Development Fund funded the course.


The University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration will offer a 100% online Master of Accountancy program from the Fanuchånan (Fall) semester on Nov. 28.

The graduate degree program’s curriculum offers courses in professional accounting research, financial analysis and valuation, corporate governance and ethics, advanced auditing and forensic accounting, information systems and data analytics. Accounting professionals who plan on seeking Guam licensure and practicing as a Certified Public Accountant can use the master’s for the required150 credit hours. 

For more information, go to https://landing.uog.edu/master-of-accountancy. For a Sept. 15 Zoom information session, email program chairwoman [email protected].


For your diary:

Sept. 10 – The Japan Consulate General will continue its series of Japan Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Micronesia Mall. The third and final event will be held on Sept. 24 at the Agana Shopping Center. Japan Saturdays offer families traditional Japanese crafts such as origami paper folding and a virtual reality experience of Japan.

Sept. 11 – The Rotary Club of Northern Guam will host its annual 9/11 Wreath Laying Ceremony at Puntan Dos Amantes, also known as Two Lovers Point, in commemoration of Patriot Day and the National Day of Service and Remembrance for individuals who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The ceremony will begin at 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11 at the Rotary Club of Northern Guam Peace Memorial at Puntan Dos Amantes.

Sept. 15 – The Guam Philharmonic Foundation Inc. will host the Mooncake Festival on Sept. 9 (Evening of the Mid-Autumn Moon) from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tumon Sands Plaza Center Court. The event offers mooncakes and other Asian pastries for sampling and sale, pop-up vendors and entertainment. The Remembering Saigon: From Vietnam to Guam” exhibit in the Center Court will continue till Sept. 15.

Sept. 17 – The Guam Nikkei Association will host the 8th Annual Lantern Floating Ceremony at the Gov. Joseph Flores Memorial Beach Park (Ypao Beach Park) Main Pavilion. Registration from 2 to 5 p.m., 5.30 p.m. Lantern Floating Ceremony, 6 p.m. Floating Lanterns

Oct. 1 – Victim Advocates Reaching Out first annual Purple Gala, 6 p.m. Nikko Hotel Guam. VARO is celebrating its 40th Anniversary, and is seeking sponsorship, donations of cash and raffle prizes, and attendance at the event. Tickets are $100. Contact Fundraising Chair, Brianna Duenas at (671) 683-8000 or Purple Gala committee vice-chairperson, Jon Mendiola at (671) 687-7797. Fundraising Chairperson, Brianna Duenas at (671) 683-8000 or Purple Gala committee vice-chairperson, Jon Mendiola at (671) 687-7797. mbj