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Product Guam

The Lonely Planet online guide to Guam has been updated and I’m happy (and relieved) to read a hint of positivity in it….unlike the previous review that basically said all the good beaches on Guam were taken up by military bases and that Guam’s favorite pastime was checking out the local K-Mart.

“But the island is currently in the throes of retooling itself. The tourism authorities talk of how ‘Product Guam’ (there’s that American influence) needs a complete overhaul from its current status as a Pacific theme park for Japanese tourists. There may come a day soon when Chamorro culture (long subsumed by various invasions and occupations) is promoted above all else, with an increased focus on local food and the fascinating stories underlying many of the villages.”

One of the great things about traveling is coming home with new ideas and fresh perspective on ways Guam can improve itself and better market itself as a travel destination. The population of Cairns, Australia and its surrounding areas is about the same as Guam. The difference is Cairns attracts two million visitors every year from every part of the world – twice as many as Guam. I’ve been to Cairns three times and I’ll keep going back because there is just so much to do…and I don’t mean shopping. In fact, I didn’t shop at all the last two trips. Cairns really does a fantastic job of marketing activities and adventures that are centered around the region’s natural landscape and environment. They are also big on preserving their natural landscape and environment. We definitely need more of that on Guam.
You know those exit surveys they have visitors fill out when they are leaving Guam? I’d like to have a look at those and find out what our tourists think about Guam. I imagine most of them stay a few days and leave knowing little to nothing about Guam’s history or culture. And that’s where Guam loses.

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5 Responses

  1. gus says:

    Guam needs something like this!

  2. Les says:

    i believe you should be able to get info from GVB on that, i believe they collect all the data from the airport and plug it into somekind of quarteryly survey of arrivals.

  3. Jason says:

    I normally don’t wax political, but here’s my thing: Guam doesn’t have (or has ever had, as far as I know), a commodity export good. Think about all the products that specifically identify each state, whether a natural visitor draw or not, giving it an economy all its own and allowing it to flourish: pineapples from Hawaii. Iowa corn. Florida oranges. Washington apples. California grapes. Potatoes from Idaho.
    Even if it’s not something natural and unique to the climate, we can’t even lay claim anything ours that’s fabricated and mass-produced (i.e., New York City cheesecake).
    We don’t have anything of the sort that local kids can grow up being proud of as their hometown good and that outsiders would want to come here to enjoy or order remotely to have. Heck, even Third World countries can rely on tourism, but they couple it with having that one THING. Sadly, we don’t. Once visitor arrivals dry up, we’re toast.
    With apologies to my friends at Adelup, the closest thing we ever got to any sort of tourism branding a few years back was the moronic “Balati Bob” character. I mean, come on – with all the neat and positive things we have here, the best they could come up with was an anthropomorphic sea cucumber?!?!?

  4. NutZo says:

    That’s the key phrase right there: “around the region”. Cairns was definitely loads of fun, but it’s just that, a “jump point”.
    You don’t go diving in Cairns, unless you want to dive the marshes… you have to get on a boat and go out for about an 3 hours or so to get to the different reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, or get to Port Douglas (40 min drive?) then get on a boat for about an hour or so. Here in Guam go snorkel at Ypao Beach to see clown fish, in front of Hyatt to see mantas, or Gun Beach for other stuffs.
    …you don’t see the rain forest in Cairns, you drive out and go to the Daintree National Park. Okay you can ride the Skyrail and check out the awesome Barron Falls, which is technically in Cairns. Then again, Guam don’t got a tropical rainforest section, so we lose out…
    Also, I would suspect that the Cairns arrivals are bolstered by the fact that CHINESE tourists can go there. I am disinclined to research the exact numbers, coz that’ll just make me sad.
    So what’s my point? We shouldn’t compare ourselves to Cairns, although that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them: aggressive marketing (they see us as a market, and rightfully so), exemplary civic planning, and outside of the box thinking (as in the key phrase).
    Sorry to ramble Josie, I guess I’m just sore that some people think Cairns is better than Guam. IMO, our reef is MUCH better then theirs, at least from what I saw.

  5. Josie says:

    I’m not saying Cairns is better than Guam. My point in comparing the two is that Cairns does a fantastic job at marketing what they have to offer. At no time did I ever think, man it’s a drag having to drive an hour to get to the Tully River for rafting. Distance is not an issue for me. The experience is worth it.
    In a conversation I had with one of our Aussie guides, I brought up the fact that Guam’s beaches and reefs are superior to what I’ve seen in Cairns. If Cairns had our gorgeous beaches and reefs, well, let’s just say I’m glad they don’t. My point is that Guam doesn’t do nearly enough to market its environment as an attraction. Open any free guidebook you pick up in Tumon and it’s filled with what? Shopping and restaurant ads and maps on how to get to stores and restaurants.
    I saw only a few Japanese tourists in Cairns and even fewer Chinese. Cairns has actually taken a hit with Japanese visitors and flights have been reduced to I think just 5 a week. I saw A LOT of europeans. I lost count of the number of different languages I overheard just sitting in the night market having dinner. If they are all willing to travel thousands of miles to Australia for holiday, why not Guam? Simple. Because they don’t know Guam.

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