HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 8) - Newly elected or appointed directors on the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) board met yesterday, armed with goals to revive an industry that stumbled after two major storms struck the island last year.

At the meeting, the board:

· Established a transition period, not exceeding 30 days, for former Sen. Tony Lamorena to phase himself in as Guam Visitors Bureau general manager as General Manager James Nelson exits; and

· Chose David Tydingco chairman of the GVB board. The GVB chairmanship is a community service that doesn't come with a paycheck, so Tydingco said he also will keep his full-time job as president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Tydingco replaced ex-Chairman Tony Sgro who, in his parting speech yesterday, thanked visitors bureau staff and tourism supporters for their efforts and issued a warning to the visitors bureau membership.

"Don't listen to the media," said Sgro, who last year had to defend media criticism of some of the bureau's marketing approaches.

The new board was off to an optimistic start yesterday.

"This is an opportunity for us to tear down the walls and make sure that, when we drive our No. 1 industry, we're driving it for the benefit of our community," Tydingco said.

"We will work hard to make sure that the bureau and our activities are accessible and transparent to everyone in the community," he said.

Tydingco said Lamorena will go through a 90-day probationary period and annual evaluations based on performance.

He said Lamorena has accepted the challenge.

The new chairman and some elected directors made promises to make things better for the GVB leadership, the tourism industry and the entire community that relies on tourism as the main provider of private-sector jobs on Guam.

Bart Jackson, re-elected director who won the highest number of votes at yesterday's GVB election, said one of his biggest disappointments in the previous board was its difficulty establishing a quorum for meetings.

"We had a board which could barely meet," he said, and added that elected directors, who come from the private sector, were always available.

Four of the board's voting directors are elected, seven are political appointees and a 12th member is selected by the elected and politically appointed directors.

Jackson said he will work harder and push for participation of more people in efforts to revive the industry. Tourism infrastructure took major damage after Typhoon Chata'an in July and Supertyphoon Pongsona in December.

Bruce Kloppenburg, an elected director, said yesterday marked the "beginning of a new generation of thinkers" at the visitors bureau board.

Vic Lo, a new director on the GVB board, said that, despite the many challenges tourism industry has gone through -- and a looming tourism downturn in the event the United States attacks Iraq -- Guam has proven many times that its people are resilient to such challenges.

January 8, 2003

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