GUAM'S SUCCESS FORMULA INCLUDES NO POLITICS IN TOURISM

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (January 3, 2001) (January 3, 2000 - Pacific Daily News/PINA Nius Online)---The Guam Visitors Bureau chairman's self-evaluation of his performance the past two years went something like this: Leadership that improved tourist arrivals 10 percent and kept politics out of decisions for the tourism industry.

Chairman Tony Sgro's self-assessment, offered in a brief campaign speech, may have pleased many of the visitors bureau's mostly business members who re-elected him to the GVB board yesterday. After the election, the board of directors voted to hand Sgro a second term as board chairman.

Keeping politics out of the Guam Visitors Bureau board wasn't an easy task, Sgro acknowledged, because the board is made up of just four elected directors and are outnumbered by political appointees.

Sgro said he managed to stop not just partisan political influence, but also some businesses' agendas from influencing the visitors bureau board.

''Our job is to bring tourists to Guam, not to specific businesses on Guam,'' he said.

Visitors bureau members re-elected a second incumbent, Monte Mesa, assistant general manager of Micronesia Mall, to the board.

The GVB election of board directors came on the heels of a recent audit that criticized some of the bureau's travel expenditures and after receiving criticism over its marketing strategy, which is heavily geared toward the Japan tourist market.

GVB General Manager James Nelson said the bureau won't dwell on those two controversial issues.

''Rather than taking the time to argue the issues, rest assured that GVB has heard the concerns and we will seek the value of it,'' Nelson said.

''This is a new year and rather than fight against each other, we must put our differences aside and look to what will bring our island the most positive results,'' he added.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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