[Pacific Islands Report] Guam Visitors Bureau Goal Questioned At Sustainability Forum
Plan for increase from 1.3 to 2 million by 2020 needs discussion
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 22, 2015) – Is the Guam Visitors Bureau’s goal to raise tourist arrivals from 1.3 million to 2 million in a year, starting in 2020, too many, and too soon? The question was raised at the island sustainability conference hosted by the University of Guam last week, and a local businessman hopes to get the community discussions on the topic to continue. Sonny Ada, former Guam Visitors Bureau chairman and president of Ada’s Trust, is advocating for the continued discussion on the topic because he said it impacts the quality of life of Guam residents. With GVB’s goal, Guam’s tourist volume would increase by about 50 percent in just five years, Ada said. If each additional visitor uses just one disposable cup, that means an additional 700,000 cups ending up in the landfill in a year, he said. Ada said raising the question isn’t meant to be critical of the plan; it’s aimed to help stir discussions about whether there’s a better way to grow the economy without the massive volume of tourists being aimed for. UOG President Robert Underwood said he hopes the discussions at the 6th Regional Island Sustainability Conference at the Hyatt Regency Guam on April 15 have provoked conversations. The goal for 2 million tourists a year is stated in the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Tourism 2020 plan. That goal isn’t new; the island tourism industry had aspired for that number in the ’90s, Underwood said. The discussion on visitor arrivals should include how the island will be challenged with the additional strain to its limited resources, Underwood said.