GUAM VISITOR NUMBERS UP

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By Gaynor Dumat-ol, Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (April 19, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---Visitor arrivals increased 3 percent last month, a modest growth when compared with the 25 percent increase in January but better than the 2 percent improvement in February.

Preliminary numbers released by the Guam Visitors Bureau's research department show that 121,838 tourists visited Guam in March, up from 118,271 during the same month last year.

Guam faced an image problem last month when government advisories warned tourists and residents against swimming at beaches believed polluted by raw sewage from a broken sewage pump station.

The visitors bureau does not believe that tourist arrivals in March were affected by that issue, Leigh Gutierrez, GVB spokeswoman, said.

Gutierrez said GVB offices in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and California were asked to monitor if Guam's beach pollution problems received media coverage in those tourist markets and none was reported.

The March total raised to 358,622 the number of tourists who visited Guam during the first three months of this year. That total represents a 10 percent increase from the 326,579 visitors who traveled to Guam during the first quarter last year, according to the visitors bureau's statistics department.

Despite signs of Japan's weakening economy, Guam saw a 2 percent increase in the number of Japanese visitors, from 99,614 in March 2000, to 101,948 in March this year, according to the visitors bureau.

When tourist arrivals on Guam increased 25 percent to 119,395 in January compared with figures from January last year, it raised tourism officials' hopes for 1.5 million tourists by the end of this year.

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

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