The Guam Visitors Bureau is seeking quarantine exemption for non-vaccinated travelers with negative COVID-19 testing within 72 hours of travel, while also announcing plans to give vouchers or other types of incentives to tourists to entice them to come to Guam.
Guam's tourism officials have been looking for ways to welcome back tourists after more than a year of a near standstill, especially now that most of the vaccine-eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
On Thursday, the GVB board of directors led by Chairman Milton Morinaga adopted a resolution that:
- requests the Department of Public Health and Social Services to allow unvaccinated visitors, including minors, to skip the mandatory quarantine upon entry to Guam if they could present a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours;
- requests implementation of safe protocols so that military personnel and allied military personnel visiting Guam for duty or liberty can enjoy what the island has to offer, provided they are fully vaccinated or present a negative COVID-19 test result; and
- tasks the GVB management team to work with the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association and Guam DPHSS on safe reopening procedures.
At present, only travelers fully vaccinated with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines could skip quarantine upon entry to Guam.
Those who are not fully vaccinated with these U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized vaccines are mandated to go into quarantine.
At their board meeting, GVB officials said other tourism destinations such as Hawaii have been successful in welcoming back tourists who only have to show negative COVID-19 tests.
GVB President Carl Gutierrez said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero is now preparing to issue an executive order allowing those fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, which is also applying for US FDA authorization for emergency use, to also skip quarantine on Guam. The EO could be signed as early as Friday, he said.
Public Health is still reviewing the proposed expanded quarantine exemption for those fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca. This was prompted by GVB's request after Jeju Airlines and other airlines from Korea requested such consideration.
Incentives to tourists
Morinaga announced during the GVB board meeting an ongoing consideration to provide incentives to tourists so they would be enticed to visit Guam, and money could come from federal pandemic recovery funds.
He said the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association is leading the initiative, in partnership with GVB and the Guam Economic Development Authority.
Morinaga said Guam's tourism officials are looking at a program similar to the CNMI's tourism investment program, which involves a plan to give each tourist $250 to $500 per CNMI island they visit such as Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
These tourists are allowed to spend these so-called travel bucks at qualified retail stores, restaurants, optional tours and other qualified businesses that already received a World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travel Stamps.
GVB officials said Adelup has committed $20 million for tourism recovery.
The bureau, along with DPHSS, is also working on its Air V&V or vaccination and vacation program for American expats.
More than 200 separate requests from individuals, families and organizations from countries where there are American expats have already reached out to GVB, according to Nadine Leon Guerrero, director of global marketing for GVB.
Gutierrez said these are on top of those who want to charter flights to Guam just to get vaccinated here, including non-American travelers.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has asked the White House whether it could increase COVID-19 dose allocation for Guam, for it to also vaccinate non-American citizens.
Gutierrez said besides hotels and other tourism partners, healthcare facilities such as Guam Regional Medical City and American Medical Center, are working to put together the vaccination and vacation packages. He said T Galleria is also willing to provide a space in Tumon where vaccination for expats can be held by clinics.
This story will be updated.