Guam could be seeing 432,261 available airline seats from South Korea in fiscal year 2022, with a 50% conservative load factor or about 217,932 passengers amid the lingering pandemic, according to Tuesday's discussions of the Guam Visitors Bureau's Korean Marketing Committee.

That's a substantial increase from fiscal 2021, when total arrivals to Guam hit only 60,343 from all sources, and not just Korea.

However, the forecast 217,932 Korean arrivals for 2022 is still a tiny fraction of the arrivals from this particular Asian market prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in fiscal 2019, at 734,339.

Jihoon "Jay" Park, GVB's new Korea country manager, said these numbers were from the airlines' operation schedules and plans for fiscal 2022, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022.

GVB board member Ben Ferguson said this is a "much more optimistic scenario than we have been talking about lately."

"This information is extremely important for all of us in the business community now on Guam before all the process of putting together a budget for expected business out of the Korean market next year," he said.

GVB last week said the arrivals forecast for 2022 from all source markets runs from a conservative 85,000 to an optimistic 201,783. Tuesday's discussion on the Korean arrivals alone exceed those numbers.

Questioning the numbers

GVB Vice President Gerry Perez, at the meeting, asked how solid the latest numbers are, considering they are based on the airlines' plans and not necessarily a commitment.

"It's one thing to estimate projection, but it's another thing to actually commit to those," he said.

But just the same, GVB officials were optimistic that 2022 would be much better than 2021. 

Park's presentation covered the fiscal 2022 tentative airline operation plan:

  • 303,759 from Incheon to Guam (Korean Air, Jeju Air, Jin Air, T'Way, Air Seoul, Asiana Airlines)
  • 128,502 from Busan to Guam (Jeju Air, Jin Air and Air Busan)

For the whole month of October, Park said there could be 5,067 seats available, with a conservative 50% passenger load.

Park said the November seats from Korea could be at 6,905 seats, while December could be 12,276.

He said the numbers are much better than what Guam had for the same months last year.

New campaign

GVB also launched its Guam Again campaign for the Korean market, which bureau officials have said is the "low hanging" fruit, considering the increasing vaccination rate in the country and lifting of more travel restrictions that bode well for Guam tourism.

The bureau is also preparing for a November familiarization tour for nearly 50 travel agents, travel media and influencers in Korea coming to Guam. 

Guam hit record-high arrivals of 1.6 million prior to the pandemic, in fiscal 2019. The numbers went down to 757,385 in fiscal 2020, before plunging to 60,343 in 2021.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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