Guam, affectionately known as “small Hawaii”, is located south of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is renowned for its traditional Chamorro culture, tropical beaches, and impressive dive sites, which include several battle-weary World War II shipwrecks.
But recently, the island has sought to shed this label to diversify its tourism efforts and enter the thriving Asia-Pacific meetings and incentives market.
With reports of rising visitor numbers and continued investment, we took a look at the changes underpinning this move.
Visit Guam initiative expands to include MICE tourism
Since releasing its comprehensive MICE Guide, the Guam Visitors Bureau has been keen to promote the island’s unique experiences, state-of-the-art facilities, luxury hotel resorts and growing airlift as part of its Visit Guam initiative, in the hope of encouraging event planners to consider the area.
Yet the opening in 2015 of what is now the island’s premier venue appears to have been the real catalyst to improving Guam’s visibility in the business events industry.
Innovative venues and diverse incentives
It offers 10 versatile meeting rooms, each with a distinct, modern elegance, high-tech amenities and the capacity to accommodate several hundred people – 800 in the Grand Ballroom.
The center has proven its worth, having successfully held the Pacific Asia Travel Association Annual Summit last May and the Prudential Insurance Convention this April – an event with more than 1,000 attendees.
Elsewhere on the island, 20 venues boast mid-sized meeting space facilities, including offerings from well-known brands like Outrigger, Sheraton, and Hilton.
Away from the fast-paced conference environment, Guam also has an impressive array of incentives for delegates. Programs can be found to match any taste, covering anything from cultural tours and scenic treks to indulgent spa packages, adventure-filled activities and Las Vegas-style entertainment nights.
Plans to encourage growth
To meet demand and outmatch its closest competitors, Guam has increased its hotel room inventory considerably with Skift now estimating it at 10,000.
This is set to grow further with the five-star Tsubaki Tower slated to open sometime in 2019. The US$150 million development will provide 340 extra hotel rooms and an expansive, open-air amphitheater for events.
Meanwhile, more routes are planned to expand the island’s air links and boost visitor arrivals. The latest saw Cebu Pacific Air open a direct service from Manila to Guam, adding 1,440 extra seats a week to existing provisions.
Future of MICE in Guam
The Guam Tourism Bureau is dedicated in its pursuit of MICE opportunities, which is one of eight core objectives outlined in its Tourism 2020 Plan. Significantly, the bureau aims to refine its offering to appeal to organizers of trade shows, study tours, incentive programs and mid-scale events – for which its facilities are best suited.
In doing so, it is hoped the room occupancy rate during quieter periods can be increased, as well as the average on-island spend per person, as meetings and incentives travelers often have higher disposable incomes than visitors from more traditional markets.
Alongside these goals, the Bureau and Visit Guam is also weighing the feasibility of bidding to the US MICE market, but time will tell whether this holds potential or not.