Matua Agupa Corp., the marketing arm of the Guam Visitors Bureau in Manila, is projecting a 5 percent to 8 percent increase in Filipino travelers to the island territory during fiscal 2010.
In an interview during the Guam Trade Mission Conference on June 30, Herbert P. Arabelo Jr., president of Matua Agupa, told the Journal that the projected growth reflects a possible recovery in the global tourism market. Worldwide tourism is in a slump due to the recession in major economies in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Data from GVB showed that from January to April 2009, arrivals from the Philippines inched up 3 percent to 3,877 from 3,764 in the same period last year. Total arrivals from the Philippines from January to December 2008 were 10,867, up 24.3 percent from the 8,744 who arrived during the same period in 2007.
Arabelo noted that Philippine arrivals bucked the general downtrend in total arrivals in Guam, which as of said four-month period, slipped by 7 percent to 369,163 from 396,864 during the same period in 2008.
The most significant drops in tourist arrivals on Guam for the January-April 2009 period are from its main tourist markets of Japan, which dipped by 4.1 percent to 296,746; and Korea, down 37.3 percent to 24,117. Other decreases were noted in travelers from the Northern Mariana Islands at 6.5 percent to 5,223; Palau at 14.3 percent to 854; Hong Kong at 49.2 percent to 845; Australia at 9.5 percent to 717; and Europe at 5.1 percent to 571.
Arrivals by sea likewise fell 26.1 percent to 4,330 from 5,857.
Arabelo explained that from January to March 2009, arrivals from the Philippines dropped significantly by 17 percent to 2,193 from the 2,641 in the same period last year. “But this was erased by the April figures alone. Since the summer vacation started here in the Philippines, a number of Filipinos have been traveling to Guam,” he said. For April alone, Filipino travelers to the island territory jumped by 50 percent to 1,684 compared to the arrivals in April 2008 which were only 1,123.
Next year’s target falls short of Matua Agupa officials’ earlier projection of bringing 50,000 Filipino tourists to Guam by 2010. (See “GVB aims for 50,000 tourist arrivals from the Philippines,” in the June 13, 2005, edition of the Journal.)
Meanwhile, Arabelo said the lowering of airfares and travel packages boosted the number of Filipino travelers to Guam during the four-month period. “[Philippine Airlines] cut its roundtrip airfare to Guam to US$110 [from the usual US$250]. Continental likewise dropped its rates to US$200 roundtrip [from US$300] for the summer,” he said. PAL also offers tour packages for visitors to Guam.
To push more Filipino tourists to go to Guam, Matua Agupa has scheduled a golf tournament in October on Guam between alumni of De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University. The universities have traditionally been rivals in academics and sports. The golf tournament will involve 140 players.
“There is also a Guam Ko’ko’ Road Race on Oct. 18 to be held simultaneously with the Guam Micronesia Island Fair on Oct. 16 to18,” where a Filipino, Pepito Deapera, will be “sent back to defend his title,” Arabelo said. Deapera won the half-marathon last year.
Matua Agupa’s renewed contract with GVB is from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2010, under which the Filipino firm receives a retainer fee amounting to US$4,000 a month “unchanged since 2006,” or US$48,000 a year. Inclusive of funding for its projects, the company’s annual budget also remains at US$100,000, since this was lowered in fiscal 2006 from US$150,000 in 2005 when it was first appointed as marketing representative for the Philippines.
In a related development, GVB data also shows that for fiscal 2009, there were 6,942 Filipinos who traveled to Guam from Oct. 1, 2008, to April 30, 2009, up 4.7 percent from the 6,630 arrivals from Oct. 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008. For fiscal 2008 (from October 2007 to September 2008), total arrivals from the Philippines reached 10,668, up 31 percent from the 8,166 who traveled to Guam in fiscal 2007. The total arrivals in fiscal 2008 surpassed Matua Agupa’s target of 9,067 for the period.
According to the same data, from Oct. 1, 2008, to April 30, 2009, significant decreases were recorded in Japan arrivals (down 8.9 percent to 490,340); Korea (down 31.4 percent to 43,848); NMI (down 10.7 percent to 9,468); and Hawaii (down 4.5 percent to 5,583).
Total tourist arrivals on Guam for fiscal 2008 (from Oct. 1, 2007, to Sept. 30, 2008) slipped by 3.6 percent to 1.18 million from 1.22 million.
Calendar 2008 brought 1.14 million tourist arrivals to Guam with the Japanese accounting for the largest number at 849,831; followed by Koreans at 110,548; visitors from the U.S. mainland, 42,564; Taiwanese, 22,592; and visitors from the NMI, 17,429. Arrivals by sea represented 48,592.
David B. Tydingco, chairman of GVB who was also in Manila for the Guam Trade Mission conference, expressed confidence that recovery of the global economy will once more bring in the tourists to the island.
He added that the transfer of some 8,000 U.S. military personnel from Okinawa, and their 9,000 dependents, will also stir up more interest in Guam as a tourist destination.
In its January report, the United Nations World Tourism Organization projected global tourism to dip between zero and 2 percent in 2009, due to the continued effect of the world economic slump. This will be a turnaround from the 2 percent growth recorded in 2008.
Notwithstanding the overall softening of the global tourism market, the UNWTO has projected that Asian and Pacific economies will likely see positive numbers in their respective tourist arrivals, “although growth will continue to be much slower compared with the region’s performance in recent years.”