Guam Visitors Bureau CEO to retire May 30

LAGUAÑA: Guam Visitors Bureau President and CEO Pilar Laguaña meets with the media after participating in a health briefing hosted by the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association on Feb. 4 at the Outrigger Guam Beach Resort in Tumon. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct that Pilar Laguaña is retiring, not resigning.

After 41 years of service, Guam Visitors Bureau CEO and President Pilar Laguaña is retiring from government service.

Laguaña provided a letter to GVB board members announcing her plans to leave the tourism agency and retire from the government of Guam on May 30.

"After spending a good deal of time reflecting on this decision, I am ready to retire and to begin my next chapter," said Laguaña. "I am truly grateful for this experience and wish great success to you all. I have confidence our industry will recover with the very capable team that will carry tourism forward."

GVB board chair Sonny Ada accepted Laguaña's notice.

"She has been a great asset to the growth of the bureau and instrumental in the successful growth of Guam's No. 1 industry," Ada said. "On behalf of the Board of Directors I thank her for her commitment, high standards and work ethic, which will be very much missed. We wish her all the best."

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero reacted to the announcement of Laguaña's retirement.

"She is retiring. I don't know if it's the COVID situation, but people have reflected that there is more to life than working. She felt she had given 41 years to GVB. She would like to move on and do other stuff and spend more time with her daughter. ... I am thinking ... she had inner reflection on what she wanted to do. ... She said she wants to be able to live the rest of her life in probably a less stressful situation. I totally respect that. I told her I wouldn't get in her way, but I am very sad she is leaving," said Leon Guerrero. "She has brought in the numbers. ... She's very well respected in the international arena. ... People respect her and look up to Pilar. ... We are going to be losing someone very good in the GVB industry."

The administration has not said if Deputy General Manager Bobby Alvarez will be put in charge of the agency or if someone else will be appointed to lead the bureau.

The governor said she will discuss the matter with the GVB board chair in the coming weeks.

Decades of service

As a seasoned tourism-marketing executive, Laguaña began her career at the visitors bureau in 1977. She advanced through many roles, including serving as GVB's deputy general manager in 1982 and the director of global marketing since 1987.

According to GVB, Laguaña drove the opening of the Korea market in the early 1980s and grew international markets including Japan, Taiwan, North America, Canada, Hong Kong, Philippines, Micronesia, Russia, Australia, Europe, China, Southeast Asia and Malaysia. She has also led efforts for niche and lucrative market segments to diversify Guam's tourist markets.

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