The past, present, and future for the economy of Guam amid the pandemic
Like other places across the globe, the economy in Guam has been heavily affected by the devastation to public health and financial stability during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Guamanian economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and recent restrictions along with the possibility of long-term behavioral changes in individuals may affect not only the present state of Guam’s economy but the future outlook of the territory’s economic situation.
The Guamanian economy had been booming in 2019, with over 1.6 million visitors arriving in the territory over the course of the year. The circumstances in 2020, tied to travel and business restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus, have significantly affected not only the present state of the economy in Guam but raise concerns about the future trajectory of the economy. The economy in Guam is heavily dependent on tourism, and over a million tourists, on average, visit the US territory each year. The tourism sector makes up approximately sixty percent of Guam’s economy and contributes $1.4 billion annually in business revenue.
Business owners are also uncertain that the number of tourists will return to their previous levels in upcoming months, putting an expected strain on a rebound in economic activity across the territory. A central aspect to the expected persistence in a dramatic reduction of tourism in Guam is that potential visitors from Japan and South Korea are subject to 14-day quarantine requirements when they return from international travel. Japan Airlines flight routes to Guam have also been suspended through July, and the reopening date for tourists visiting from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan will not begin until July.
While Guam is not unique in the disruption that has been caused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, its unique economic dependence on tourism is particularly affected by this public health crisis. The effects of the pandemic have reverberations that not only shape the current conditions of economic stability of Guam but will shape long-term growth and employment rates. Public officials and business owners alike have weathered the early onslaught that the coronavirus has placed on social and economic life, but preparing for future changes in tourism and the service industry broadly across Guam will be equally as important.