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University of Guam economics professor Maria Claret Ruane present the results of a study on the island’s past economic trends and explains its possible outlook. Ricky Marvin Cruz, Pacific Daily News

After what the Guam Visitor’s Bureau declared a record-shattering December and calendar 2018, the bureau forecasts an even more successful 2019. 

The bureau projects 1.6 million visitor arrivals in fiscal 2019, surpassing any other fiscal and calendar year arrival records, said GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight during his year end report on Tuesday. 

Visitor arrivals from Japan are projected to increase by 13.2 percent, and arrivals from Korea are expected to increase by 2.3 percent in fiscal 2019, as compared to fiscal 2018, according to Denight. 

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This is in contrast to University of Guam Economics Professor Maria Ruane, who predicts economic troubles in Japan and Korea will decrease visitor arrivals from both countries in 2019.  

Recovery of Japan market

The ongoing recovery of the Japan market can be attributed to increased seat capacity in 2018, says Denight, which he anticipates to continue: the bureau projects Japan seat capacity to increase by 8.9 percent in fiscal 2019. 

T’way Airlines established a daily Nagoya-Guam service, beginning Dec. 29. The service offers 189 seats on a B737-800, and will provide nearly 35,000 seats to Guam through October 2019.

However, seat capacity from Korea is expected to reduce by 9 percent in fiscal 2019, attributing to the slowing growth of the Korea market. Korea maintains a lead over Japan in the tourism market. 

“What we want is a strong Korea market and a strong Japan market,” Denight said. “I don’t think we need to decide between the two.” 

Hotel inventory must increase

Guam’s hotel inventory must increase to meet and support the anticipated growth in fiscal 2019, Denight said. The number of rooms for visitors on Guam has remained stagnant for years now. 

Guam currently offers 8,883 hotel rooms. The bureau aims to have 10,091 rooms by 2020. 

The 26-story Tsubaki Tower, next to Hotel Nikko Guam in Tumon Bay, will provide 340 rooms to help fill this need, but more rooms are needed, Denight said. 

Board of director positions

Bureau members voted on four board of director positions for the upcoming year on Tuesday as well. There are 13 board members total who serve two year terms. 

Former First Lady Joann Camacho was newly elected to the board. Current board members Brad Kloppenburg, from Kloppenburg Enterprises Inc, Sam Shinohara, from United Airlines, and Satoru Murata, from Holiday Tours Micronesia, were re-elected to the board. 

Milton Morinaga, GVB board chairman and managing director for PHR Ken Micronesia – a major investor with hotel brands such as Hyatt Regency Guam, Hilton Guam Resort and Spa and Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort — was not re-elected.

Five additional board positions will be appointed by newly installed Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and three positions will be appointed by the new legislature. The last remaining position, to bring the board of directors to 13 filled seats, will be elected by the rest of the GVB board of directors. 

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