North Korean tensions aren’t deterring tourists from Guam
Tourists haven’t been deterred from visiting the tropical island of Guam even though the U.S. territory has been the target of threats from North Korea during a week of angry words exchanged by Pyongyang and Washington.
Chiho Tsuchiya of Japan heard the news, but she decided to come anyway with her husband and two children. “I feel Japan and Korea also can get danger from North Korea, so staying home is the same,” said the 40-year-old.
Won Hyung-jin, an official from Modetour, a large South Korean travel agency, said several customers called with concerns, but they weren’t worried enough to pay cancellation fees for their trips.
“It seems North Korea racks up tension once or twice every year, and travelers have become insensitive about it,” Won said. His company has sent about 5,000 travelers to Guam a month this year, mostly on package tours.
The U.S. territory has a population of 160,000, but it attracted 1.5 million visitors last year. One third of Guam’s jobs are in the tourism industry.
Guam is a key outpost for the U.S. military, which uses it as a base for bombers and submarines. The island’s sandy beaches and aquamarine waters make it a popular getaway for travelers from Japan and South Korea. Guam is only about three hours by plane from major cities in both countries.
The number of South Korean travelers has been growing lately because five low-cost airlines started flying to Guam from South Korea, said Antonio Muna, vice president of Guam Visitors Bureau.