Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (May 10) - Guam's tourism industry has seen some very positive signs so far this year. Visitor numbers have continued to rise during the first part of 2004, and arrivals exceeded expectations during Golden Week.

However, it must be remembered that a few months don't make the entire year. We can't just sit back and hope that the early year trends will continue through the end of 2004. There needs to be action taken to better ensure that we can sustain and expand upon the kind of growth we've seen so far -- things that go beyond creating a squishy little sea cucumber mascot, a few signs and some plastic sea life identification cards.

A significant part of that must be a stronger effort to keep Guam clean and beautiful. There have been several cleanup efforts to remove trash from our parks, beaches and roadsides, but more must be done. We need to remove junk cars and tear down dilapidated buildings. Efforts to paint over graffiti and touch up faded buildings and facilities must expand and be ongoing.

The completion of the Tumon Redevelopment Project will help as well. Torn up roads, cones and heavy construction equipment take away from our island's beauty. We also need to address worsening problems with some parts of northern San Vitores Road, where erosion had damaged brick walkways embedded in the street.

The Guam Visitors Bureau is attempting to capitalize on the shooting of a Hollywood movie here. We must take advantage of publicity opportunities that get word about our island out to a greater audience. The Liberation Day celebrations we have planned are right up that alley. So is the growing sports tourism market, which is bringing to Guam professional teams from the region.

All of this will help us better deliver the Guam that we sell to visitors -- a safe, friendly, beautiful, tropical island paradise. This will convince tourists to return to Guam for vacation, and make it worth recommending to their friends, families and co-workers, as well as help us better attract new visitors.

Besides, it enhances the overall quality of life for all residents of Guam as well.

May 10, 2004

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