Gutierrez: Expo offers hope for Philippine tourism growth | Viewpoint


Halfaday! The excitement and anticipation are beyond words! At Tourism Guam, we live, breathe, see, hear and feel the rising pulse of regional tourism every day. We couldn’t be more excited about the increasing return of key outbound tourism markets from Japan, Korea and Taiwan to Guam, as well as the continued influx of state residents working on the island for the federal government.

However, I am equally eager to attract more Filipinos, as they are a group of tourists with spending power. They are astute travelers with a deep and abiding respect for our ancient Chamoru culture, which has countless ties to the Malay Archipelago, of which there are 7,000 islands in the Philippines alone!

Guam and the Philippines share a traditional bond of deep camaraderie and mutual prosperity through centuries of exchanges and interisland travel, which is why GVB proudly hosted 10 Filipino tour operators last week to visit Guam attractions. We believe that due to their positive experience, new travel packages will be created soon.

These factors are also why we are sending delegations of travel partners and bureau personnel to the Philippine Association of Travel Agents’ 30th Travel Expo (Business-to-Consumer/B2C) and 8th International Travel Trade Fair (Business-to-Business/B2B) next month .

main event

In the Philippines, TTE and iTTE are indeed the events of the season. Local and international airlines, resorts and hotels, on-demand tour operators and travel industry retailers will come together for a travel business event. It will also give us the opportunity to connect with travel agencies who can help us take advantage of the growing number of US visa holders from the Philippines. In the process, we will update statistics that support our cause and open the way for Filipino tourists to visit Guam visa-free.

iTTE is exclusively for travel agencies and tour operators who will connect with local and international tourism suppliers. With US visa processing slow these days, the bureau is focusing its engagement on meetings with travel agents. As GVB remains committed to achieving visa-free access for Filipinos to U.S. destinations in Guam, we aim to strengthen our relationship with their agents during this time.

Browse travel restrictions

While Guam is still lobbying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Congress and other federal agencies to include the Philippines in the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, work and travel visa requirements have not stopped many Filipinos from traveling to Guam for education, employment and vacations. Arrivals from the Philippines jumped 223% in November compared to the same period last year, from 336 in 2021 to 1,086 in 2022.

Our goal for FY2023 is to reach 82% of pre-pandemic arrivals by strategically targeting 2 million Filipinos with US visas and ramping up the Visa Waiver Program with the Philippines. Thankfully, our new country manager, Romeo Go, is ready, willing and able to help us achieve the above goals and is currently handling our FY23 domestic marketing strategy.

Test market proved fruitful

Washington, D.C.’s decision to finally lift the cap on H-2B guest workers from the Philippines has resulted in more temporary workers living and spending here at wages far higher than those paid in the Philippines. It also gives Guam hope that Filipinos will be allowed visa-free travel to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, a preeminent and well-established tourism destination like the Philippines, with its wealthy international investors and burgeoning middle class, simply won’t host tens of thousands of expo attendees from across the region and the rest of the world for no reason at all. . The exponential growth of the Double Expo in such a short period of time is proof that the Philippine outbound travel market is ready for visa-free travel and that the Filipino hosts will roll out the red carpet with style and fanfare.

The lengthy preparations before traveling abroad have given Asians an inordinate amount of time to plan and save money, and now more than ever they are willing to enjoy their time and spend freely. It also provides GVB, the Guam government and local industry players with the time needed to renovate parks, public spaces and attractions and reinvest in resorts and retail complexes. Now is the time to monetize each promising market near flights to Guam to help us balance our visitor profile mix.

Past Governor Carl TC Gutierrez was President and CEO of the Guam Tourism Authority, Guam License Czar, and Chairman of the Governor’s Economic Strategy Council.Send comments or questions to GVB at


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