US territories dependent on tourism vulnerable during the pandemic
As summer unofficially begins and people’s vacation plans have changed due to the coronavirus, some are optimistic and hopeful that their fall and winter vacation plans will occur as planned. However there has been discussions from top health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Facui, of a possibility for a second wave of COVID-19 during the fall and winter. Not only is the seasonal flu present during the fall and winter, but this is a time when many tourists vacation in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. So how could a second wave affect US territories’ economies, specifically, tourism which makes up half of the US territories’ GDP?
Tourists are more likely to visit these places during the winter season due to the beautiful warm weather and the lower risk for tropical disasters. Although these are US territories, US citizens do not make up the majority of tourists who visit some of these territories. For instance, tourists who visit Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands mainly come from Japan, Korea, and other East Asian countries. Whereas tourists who visit Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands largely are from the continental US and European countries.
Due to tourists coming from a diverse number of countries and each country having their own policies for the COVID-19 pandemic, the US territories will most likely see a dramatic drop in their tourism industry this fall and winter. This drop in tourism would negatively affect the economy as each territory relies on tourism for comprising a majority of their GDP. For instance, if a second wave does occur and the US allows flights to continue, then US citizens could fly to the territories and vacation there. Whereas, if a second wave does occur and Japan and Korea suspend or limit flights then territories like Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands would have a hardship in tourism during the fall and winter. Thus, US territories are affected not only by US travel policies but also by other countries whose citizens travel to US territories.