Excited for the new normalTravel And Tour World
Published on : Friday, April 29, 2022
Tourism in Guam and in some parts of Micronesia is starting to return but it would take time for full recovery to happen after the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
While Guam is anticipating an increase in air seats and passengers, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia have yet to open their borders for any leisure travel, PATA officials said.
With zero tourism on these islands since March 2020, their tourism officials on Wednesday asked for an additional waiver of membership dues, among other things.
Emerged stronger, more resilient
But overall, despite the challenges of the past two years, the region has emerged stronger, more resilient and now excited for the new normal, PATA Micronesia Chairwoman Paula Monk said during the organization’s general membership meeting.
These new “normal” are geared towards much healthier and safer travel than prior to the pandemic.
Tourism arrivals will slowly pick up and we must all be ready as a destination and as a region, but more importantly as PATA Micronesia’s chapter, Monk said.
Guam, she said, has started seeing the return of visitors from Japan and Korea, as well as from Taiwan and the Philippines, and continues to receive visitors from the United States.
Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will be hosting more than 1,000 athletes from 24 participating islands for the 11th Pacific Mini Games from June 17 to 25, Monk said.
The event will encourage travel among islands and will continue to build strong relationships with one another, she said.
Palau, which recently hosted the Ocean Conference, continues its efforts toward conservation of the natural environment, she added.
David Sanchez, an engineer and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, drove this point further when he spoke on island sustainability and innovation and how they could be applied to tourism and other businesses.
Because of their geography and isolation, islands are by nature “required to be sustainable” and innovative, Sanchez, the event’s guest speaker, said.
‘Think about cultural best practices’
Sustainability is really about human flourishing, he said.
Think about cultural best practices, think of traditions that we have, many of these things were built on a culture that evolved over thousands of years that naturally was sustainable.
For residents of Micronesia, the effects of the pandemic are far more serious because of geographic location, limited resources and the high probability of the virus to spread uncontrollably, Monk said.
Fortunately, people have risen above the challenges and have come a long way from the past 24 months. They can now see a glimpse of the return of tourism and some sort of new sense of normal, she added.
Mark Manglona, marketing manager for the Guam Visitors Bureau, shared some travel trends in the Pacific, starting with the pent-up desire to travel after two years of staying home.
This bodes well for island tourism in particular, he said, because travelers are looking forward to destinations that are less crowded with tourists where they could feel safe and comfortable.
Safety, health and hygiene are among factors that drive travel demand, he said, along with tourism offices’ right messaging to their consumers that their destination is “safe.”
In Guam’s case, he said, there’s a high COVID-19 vaccination rate and many businesses have taken part in the Guam Safe Certification and the World Travel and Tourism Council Safe Travels stamp program to help ease tourists’ mind about the safety of the destination.