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By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (August 31, 2002 - Pacific Daily News)---The Guam Visitors Bureau announced yesterday it is moving forward with a plan to give away vacation money to lure more group travelers and wedding parties from Japan to Guam.

A 3-month-old law authorized the visitors bureau to spend as much as $6 million in additional promotions, including check giveaways, by borrowing that money from a lending institution.

However, GVB's efforts to establish a $6 million line of credit with a bank have stalled over certain conditions that require an amendment to local law. So while waiting for the line of credit to be finalized, the visitors bureau will finance the check giveaways with money from a GVB time certificate of deposit that will mature on Sept. 1, said Theresa R. Cruz, acting GVB general manager.

She's in charge while visitors bureau General Manager James Nelson is in China working out the details of another tourism-related promotional event.

When GVB finalizes a line-of-credit agreement -- either with Bank of Guam or with Guam's airport agency -- the visitors bureau will be able to repay money drawn from the visitors bureau's TCD account, Cruz said.

Leigh Gutierrez Pereda, GVB spokeswoman, said the check giveaways go into effect Sept. 1.

She said the checks will be issued under campaigns for group travelers and wedding-related visitors. Among the details of the plan, as stated by the GVB spokeswoman:

§ Wedding campaign

The wedding campaign will cost $2.2 million, which covers advertising and public relations expenditures associated with the promotion. Of the $2.2 million, about $840,000 will be for the actual checks, worth $20 each. Each wedding party with at least eight visitors to Guam will receive checks totaling $420. About 2,000 couples are expected to bring their wedding entourages to Guam under the plan. The checks must be spent on Guam no later than Dec. 31.

There are other criteria involved for couples to qualify for the vacation money.

§ Group campaign

The group campaign will cost $924,000, of which about $550,000 will be used to cover for checks worth $20 each. A $20 check will be issued to every member of a group of 20 or more Japanese adults. Each group must meet the campaign's criteria. The visitors bureau expects about 27,500 visitors to travel to Guam under the group campaign. Group travelers have until Jan. 5 next year to spend the checks on Guam.

The visitors bureau is urging island businesses to honor the checks. Cruz said the checks are good as cash.

''These marketing campaigns were developed in order to increase visitor arrivals during this competitive time for Japanese travel,'' Cruz said in a press release.

She said the money can be used only on Guam so the campaigns will help infuse money back into the local economy.

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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