A Quick History of Tourism on Guam
1967 was a big year for tourism on Guam. Just two months before the arrival of that first plane of Japanese tourists, Guam’s International Air Terminal opened for the first time. The previous “terminal” was a mere quonset hut.
Theirport had initially been built by the Japanese Navy. It was recaptured and repaired by American forces in 1944. At the time, it was called Agana Airfield, and it was exclusively used by the military, since the Navy had restricted civilian visitors for security reasons.
When President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11045 in 1962, permitting civilian arrivals, Guam’s potential as a tourism destination was suddenly in play.
In the next few years, several hotels began to open to accommodate incoming tourists, including the Cliff Hotel in Hagatna, the Fujita Guam Tumon Beach Hotel, the Continental Hotel in Tumon, and the Guam Dai-Ichi Hotel (now the Fiesta Resort Guam) in Tumon. Additionally, Continental, Trans World Airlines, Pan American, and Japan Airlines started service to Guam, bringing tourists to Guam’s shores.
The Economic Impact of Tourism on Guam
The industry that started in 1967 has not just grown but flourished.
In terms of revenue and taxes, the tourism industry’s economic impact on Guam is clear. Although tourism dipped as a result of the pandemic, the Visitors Bureau reported years when Guam enjoyed:
- $1.4 billion in sales in the tourism sector
- $150 million generated in tax revenue
- $26 million paid in hotel occupancy taxes
- $1,100 average spend per visitor
Let’s take a closer look at two areas driving a good portion of that revenue: hotels and airlines.