Gutierrez: The recovery of the Japanese market looks promising | Opinion

Hafa adai! If all goes as planned, Guam will soon welcome larger groups of Japanese visitors. This new itinerant traffic is expected to increase available airline seat capacity and hotel room nights while adding more revenue to a tax stream increased by federal assistance over the past two years.

Now that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced that his government will stop requiring negative COVID tests from incoming vaccinated passengers and increase that country’s daily arrival cap of 20,000 for inbound travellers, Japanese travel back from the stranger should no longer seem so intimidating.

According to Nikkei News, it had become increasingly difficult for Japanese travelers to collect necessary clinical documents as other countries drop pre-departure coronavirus testing.

Tempered enthusiasm

Although tourists from South Korea have flocked to Guam in numbers that have shattered projections, those from Japan have been slower to return.

Other reasons for low enthusiasm for travel from Japan include:

  • The decrease in purchasing power of a weakened yen.
  • Increase in airfares in an uncompetitive environment.
  • Increased fuel surcharges per air passenger.

Although plans are in place for the government of Guam to continue to offer free COVID-19 PCR tests to returning passengers who must show a negative result within the last 72 hours of arrival at least until the end September, demand for this service is now expected. fade sooner than later. This convenience reduced the cost of round-trip travel for Japanese people, who would otherwise expect to pay upwards of $150 per test, as rapid antigen test results remained unacceptable upon arrival in Japan.

However, neither this accommodating factor nor the opening of new air routes from Japan proved sufficient to trigger a massive influx of Japanese travelers on board the next flight.

As the industry standard travel planning time per passenger is not less than 90 days before boarding, it will take time to recover the Japanese market. And Guam’s visitor industry needs to remain both patient and accommodating until the cost of travel to and from Japan becomes less burdensome and more affordable, and our Japanese customers are ready to start visiting Guam at a pre-pandemic rate approaching 400,000 per year or more.

Japan a pillar

One of the ways GVB has remained focused and unfazed in the face of the long decline in Japanese arrivals is to keep a close eye on the evolving economic, social and health security conditions in Japan. Another is to continue to send delegations from Guam to this primary source market to meet with travel managers and industry partners to represent our island at trade shows.

Guam must remain at the forefront of all facets of Japan’s highly competitive foreign trade as it gathers pace for a rebound and begins to sell tour packages and FIT trips again in higher volumes.

From August 1-7, representatives from the Guam Visitors Bureau and the Guam International Airport Authority visited key sites in Fukuoka, Okayama and Shizuoka. Our delegation included GVB President Milton Morinaga, GVB Japan Marketing Manager Regina Nedlic, GVB Japan Marketing Coordinator Mai Perez, GIAA Executive Director John Quinata, GIAA Marketing Administrator Rolenda Faasuamalie and GIAA Program Coordinator IV Elfrieda Koshiba.

Along the way, our GoGo! The GUAM Roadshow delegation met with aviation authorities and prefectural and municipal leaders to discuss the opening of new routes between several airlines and the possible launch of a new airline that could eventually fly from the three cities .

Key visits

This recent roadshow was the latest of a number of key visits to Japan designed to keep Guam up-to-date with all of the network’s languages, supporting the gradual resurgence of Japan’s outbound travel market.

The strategic mission to Japan was the first in a series of Japan visits implemented to reopen Guam to tourism, beginning with meetings at Tokyo-area government departments, airlines and travel agencies in April, followed by the GoGo! Announcing the GUAM campaign and supporting industry partners in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya in July.

As nearly six decades of history has shown, Japan has always been a key visitor market for Guam and there is no indication that it will not continue to be so for the foreseeable future as the country eases travel restrictions and encourages travel abroad.

Fortunately, the Japanese government has also announced that it will start simplifying clinical reporting requirements for positive COVID cases, so medical professionals can focus on treating all types of illnesses. This should have the effect of keeping more potential tourists fit to travel.

Throughout the history of Guam’s modern post-war tourism industry, our industry has suffered occasional setbacks due to everything from regional economic downturns and flu outbreaks to airline difficulties, as well as ravaging typhoons here in Guam. We have always come through these tough times with our heads held high and our noses to the grindstone.

And we will do it again.

Former Governor Carl TC Gutierrez is the President and CEO of Guam’s Bureau of Visitors, Guam’s Permit Czar, and Chairman of the Governor’s Economic Strategy Council. Send your comments or questions to GVB at

[email protected]