Other Americans in Asia eye Guam for vaccination and vacation

TUMON: A panoramic photograph shows the T Galleria by DFS Guam in Tumon, on Thursday. The Guam Visitors Bureau is hoping to market Guam as a place where Americans living in Asia can come to get vaccinated while on vacation. David Castro/the Guam Daily Post

More Americans now living in the Asia-Pacific region expressed interest in coming to Guam to get COVID-19 vaccination while vacationing, even as Guam continues to weigh the idea of marketing the island to this emerging visitor market.

After The Guam Daily Post ran a story about an American businessman based in Thailand who's now vacationing on Guam for about five weeks while also getting his two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, others also reached out to share plans to do the same.

They, however, wanted to know for sure from the government of Guam whether they, too, can get vaccinated.

Guam Visitors Bureau President Carl Gutierrez said GVB has been touting vaccination tourism for expatriates and dual citizens.

The American Chambers of Commerce in Taiwan, Japan and Korea estimate 200,000 American expatriates occupy their countries collectively, he said.

"But before we can viably pursue this market, we must first obtain more vaccines, beyond the amount necessary to inoculate our own target population base here on island," Gutierrez said. "The governor’s overriding concern and focus is inoculating the people of Guam."

Krystal Paco-San Agustin, the governor's director of communications, said if the supply of vaccines allows for it, "we would definitely be open to discussing further."

"Again, we want to ensure that our current supply is prioritized for our residents," she said.

Prior to the story, Guam's tourism representatives were already getting multiple inquiries from American Chambers of Commerce in the Asia-Pacific region about the possibility of having their members come to Guam for vaccination tourism.

As of Tuesday, the governor and her advisers, as well as GVB, had not made a final decision whether to market Guam as a vaccination and vacation destination for Americans in the region.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services ordered additional 32,730 COVID-19 vaccines for May. Guam's full vaccination rate among adults is now about 56% and hopes to reach 80% or herd immunity by July 21.

Paco-San Agustin said it's important to keep in mind that Guam can expect younger individuals to be eligible for the vaccines "soon, so this may increase demand for the vaccine."

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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