Tag Archives: Guam tourism

Guam expecting more Chinese visitors

130212230105-guam-map-story-topChinese tourism overseas will double in the next six years to 200 million people a year, according to a recent report from analysts at CLSA, and a tiny US military outpost 900 miles north of the equator in the Western Pacific could be one of the biggest beneficiaries.

The hilly 200-square-mile island of Guam, population about 160,000, could see 50% growth in Chinese tourists, analysts say, the most of any destination.

In ultimate numbers, that’s still not huge: 21,000 Chinese tourists traveled to Guam in 2013, compared to over 3 million Chinese tourists who went to Thailand, the most popular foreign destination. But the growth in Chinese tourists to Guam has already skyrocketed from 1,000 in 2007, and Guam businesses are lobbying the US Congress to pass a visa-waiver program (paywall) for Chinese citizens that could make that growth even faster.

Guam’s proximity to the rest of Asia (it’s a three to five hour flight from several major cities) has already contributed to a boom in tourism, mostly from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, that has transformed the island’s economy. The US military base was reliant on defense spending for decades, but tourism now supplies about 60% of Guam’s revenues.

Chinese tourists Guam - Luxury hotels of AmericaTaiwan’s “Hello Kitty” airline, Eva Air, started regular flights to Guam from Taipei in 2011, and nearly 1 million Japanese vacationers come every year to enjoy the island’s mix of white sand beaches, coral reef and air conditioned duty-free shopping malls.

Guam’s military history might prove as much of a draw for the Chinese, who are clashing with Japan and other Asian neighbors over the rights to islands and territory in the South China Sea. In July, Guam celebrates its liberation from the Japanese, who landed in 1941 and were driven from the island by the US in 1944, with a month of parades, festivals and the crowning of a “Liberation Queen.”

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Hawaii Governor working to attract more Chinese tourists

Reaching out to China’s booming tourism market will be a priority for Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie during the three-day China-US Governors Forum in Beijing.

Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) President Mike McCartney and other tourism officials will join Abercrombie – on his inaugural trip to Asia – at the forum on Oct. 19, 2011.

A good relationship between China and the United States will not only stimulate Hawaii’s economy but also promote cultural understanding, Abercrombie said.

Hawaii already has sister-state relationships with Guangdong and Hainan provinces.

“Chinese culture and traditions have long since become intertwined into our own local culture, building on Hawaii’s longstanding and very special relationship with China,” Abercrombie said.

Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, who will also attend the forum, is also interested in promoting the US territory as a travel destination for Chinese people.

At the US-China Governors Forum in Salt Lake City in February, he discussed with Zhejiang Party Secretary Zhao Hongzhu the potential for increased tourism from China if a visa waiver program is approved.

“US governors and the (Barack) Obama administration understand how critical it is for the nation to build economic alliances with China,” Calvo said.

Zhao told Calvo he intends to encourage residents of his populous province to visit Guam, according to Calvo. Zhao mentioned that many Zhejiang residents currently vacation in Singapore, which is a six-hour flight, whereas the flight to Guam is only four hours.

The number of Chinese tourists in Hawaii has jumped significantly since the signing of the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the US and China to allow Chinese vacationers to visit the country.

HTA, Hawaii’s state tourism agency, projects a total of 91,000 Chinese visitors to Hawaii this year, a 37 percent increase over last year.

The average Chinese tourist spends $349 per person each day, according to data compiled by HTA, whereas Japanese visitors spend an average of $261 each day.

Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism forecasts the number of Chinese visitors to Hawaii will increase annually by 20 percent from 2012 to 2014. By 2014, Hawaii will have 140,000 Chinese visitors a year.

At the upcoming three-day forum, McCartney will join Abercrombie for a meeting with Shao Qiwei, director of China’s National Tourism Administration.

The two will also meet officials from China Eastern Airlines and the US embassy, as well as representatives from the airline and travel industries.

HTA works closely with its overseas contractor Hawaii Tourism China, which has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, to promote Hawaii to Chinese travelers as a vacation and business destination, according to McCartney.

In August, China Eastern Airlines launched its first direct, nonstop flight between Shanghai and Honolulu, the first twice-a-week flight connecting China and Hawaii.

HTA estimates that this regularly scheduled flight, on Tuesdays and Fridays, will provide the state with $60 million in annual visitor expenditures.

Before traveling to the US, Chinese travelers are required to obtain a tourist visa. When the Visa Waiver Program was introduced for tourists from South Korea in 2008, the number of travelers from South Korea to Hawaii increased significantly, according to McCartney.

McCartney said the state has been working hard to support efforts that could help expedite the process for obtaining travel visas.

“We understand the visa process for Chinese visitors is long, and we hope to ease it,” McCartney said.

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