It all started in 1967, when a Pan American plane carrying 109 Japanese tourists landed at the airport on Guam. Today, Guam’s tourism industry is undeniably a massive contributor to the island’s economy. 

But just how large is the tourism industry on Guam? How deeply does it impact the island’s economics—and just how many tourists are we talking?  

Let’s take a look, through a series of 35+ facts and figures about Guam’s tourism industry. 

Beach with chairs and umbrellas

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.


Image of Two Lovers Point sign

The Economic Impact of Tourism on Guam

The industry that started in 1967 has not just grown but flourished.

of Guam total revenue

A 2020 report from the Guam Visitors Bureau revealed that the tourism industry directly and indirectly accounts for 60% of Guam’s total revenues, making it the “primary driver of Guam’s economy.”  

of Guam’s civilian workforce

That same report also attributed 21,000 jobs to the tourism industry, which is around a third of Guam’s overall civilian labor force. The Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association (GHRA) says that number might be as high as 34,000 (~59%). 

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.

Hotels on Guam

A Look at the Hotel Industry

How many options do tourists and visitors to Guam have when it comes to finding a place to stay?

hotel rooms belonging to GHRA members

The Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association (GHRA) reported 26 member hotels in its most recent statistical report, accounting for 8,399 hotel rooms. If you’re curious, GHRA-member average hotel rates go from anywhere from $91–$186/night. 

In terms of hotel alternatives, the island has a few guest houses and bed & breakfast-type properties. Additionally, you’ll find a couple hundred listings between AirBnB and Vrbo, if that’s the route you’d rather go. 

View from Airplane

A Look at the Airline Industry

Currently, 10 airlines provide service to Guam’s airport: United Airlines, Air Seoul, China Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, T’way Air, and Aerospace Concepts (a business jet service).

passengers processed at the airport per year

Pre-pandemic, the A. B. Won Pat International Airport on Guam (GUM) processed more than 3.8 million passengers annually through 21 gates. 

Flights in 2021

In fiscal year 2021, the airport handled 12,048 flights, with a total of 88,307 arriving passengers and 101,696 departing passengers. These numbers were down significantly from the results of fiscal year 2019, which saw 54,538 flights, 1.7 million arriving passengers, and 1.7 departing passengers. 

Let’s break those numbers down even further and take a close look at the people coming to Guam.

map of guam


Guam Visitors by the Numbers

arrivals in 2019

2019 represented a peak for Guam’s tourism industry with 1,631,049 arrivals, the highest level the island had seen. 2016, 2017, and 2018 were close behind with between 1.51M and 1.56M visitors. (Note: Guam’s Visitors Bureau uses a fiscal year that starts in October of each year.) 

As in other destinations around the world, the pandemic had a significant impact on Guam’s tourist industry. The Visitors Bureau’s most recent annual report, ending FY22, reported just 216,915 arrivals to Guam for the year. Compare that to the numbers above, and the effects of the pandemic are pretty stark.

In addition to the number of arrivals, the nationalities of arriving visitors to Guam has also shifted. According to statistics from the Guam Visitors Bureau, in 2019:

  • The majority of arrivals came from Korea (45%), followed by Japan (41%).
  • The U.S. (including Hawaii) made up about 6% of arrivals, followed by Taiwan (2%), China (1%), and the Philippines (1%).
  • Tourists from other destinations made up about 4% of other arrivals.

However, in 2022:

  • Korea still made up the majority of arrivals at 50%.
  • The second-most common origin point for arrivals was the U.S. at 30%.
  • Japan dropped all the way down to 6%.
  • The Philippines rose to 3%,
  • China and Taiwan represented less than 1% of arrivals.

Finally, if you’re curious what the typical profile of a visitor to Guam looks like, check out these October 2022 statistics from the Guam Visitors Bureau:

BEach waves in Guam

As Guam’s tourism industry continues to rebound from the pandemic, these statistics will likely shift again, both in terms of overall numbers and profiles of arriving visitors. 

Tourism: The Driving Force in Guam’s Economy

Like many other tropical island destinations, tourism is a big driver behind Guam’s economy. You’ve gotten a taste of what that means through the facts and figures in this article. Of course, if you live on Guam, you know that, although the tourism industry looms large on the island, it’s also just one aspect of living on Guam, an island rich with culture, activities, and natural beauty.

Considering a move to Guam? Our Tamuning-team would be happy to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable move to the island! Reach out for a free quote to get started.

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