According to GVB, Guam can expect to end fiscal 2022 with 200,000 visitors, better than its early anticipated high of 130,000 tourists.

We’ll be truly lucky to rise above 500,000 or 600,000 visitors next year, how ever many marketing trips off-island GVB makes.

That’s a far cry from the 1.63 million visitors at the end of fiscal 2019 — Guam’s best year to date.

GVB estimated at the time that the economic impact of that fiscal 2019 was $946.5 million.

Our tourism industry not only has competition in the region, but outside factors such as currency fluctuations that don’t help.

Speaking to the Guam Chamber of Commerce membership on Sept. 28, Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson said we can look forward to $1.2 billion to $2 billion of military construction annually in the next seven to eight years.

The commander of Joint Region Marianas had plenty of figures to share on the increase of personnel that will come to the region and the future jobs that will remain after the military realignment slows (See “Quotable”).

But at the beginning of his speech, he referenced the “partnership and hospitality” of Guam’s civic organizations and government during the pandemic. 

“When we needed hotel rooms for our quarantine and isolated USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors and servicemembers — you were there. We could not have maintained mission readiness without your extraordinary support and the resources that were available at a moment’s notice,” he said.

There’s no doubt that regional security plays its part in the military exercises that dot our annual calendar, particularly as tensions have heightened recently.

But that sort of welcome and the publicity engendered by Guam’s willingness has undoubtedly encouraged repeated port visits. With those port visits come the opportunity for thousands of military personnel from a variety of countries and all branches of service to enjoy not only Guam, but the Northern Mariana Islands and Palau. And for those ships and personnel to bring a welcome injection to the economy, whether its for provisions or visiting island businesses.

We need to keep our welcome mat clean and polished. mbj