Marianas Business Journal

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Feb. 15, 2010) – We'd like to voice our support - in principle, at least - for the effort to move the adult entertainment businesses out of Tumon, Guam. Most recently, Sen. Benjamin J. F. Cruz introduced bill 314-30 that proposes to restrict adult businesses to areas zoned M1 for light industry and M2 for heavy industry.

For years, hoteliers along San Vitores Road have complained that strip clubs, massage parlors, sex novelty shops and adult bookstores are counter-productive to the family-destination image that they are promoting to attract tourists. In addition to the nature of the businesses themselves, we are told that much of the sidewalk hawking and foreign-language signage is offensive to guests.

Such businesses also make the area less attractive for local and military families wishing to enjoy Tumon's beaches, eateries and other attractions.

Some, with impeccable tourism industry credentials, have said that tourism is not compatible with the military buildup. And while we believe that point is at least debatable, we think that as the adult night clubs move away from Tumon, their rowdier, more disorderly patrons will go with them, addressing at least part of the concern about young servicemen blowing off steam or otherwise behaving inappropriately.

We are, however, concerned about creating an "anything-goes" zone. The adult businesses obviously meet some demand or they would not exist. A sex industry of some sort, legal or illegal, is probably inevitable near a sizable military base, and tourists also make up a fair share of the adult-business customer base.

But we hope that law-enforcement agencies will not consider it a hands-off area. We're concerned that a zone that is simply without rules would be at least as injurious to the island's reputation and attractiveness as a family destination as the current situation. The adult businesses are still subject to the law, and safety and public health issues remain a concern.

It must also be remembered that the owners of existing businesses have rights and thought should be given to the precedent that is being set. We assume that the businesses are licensed, regulated and taxed - giving them tacit, if not overt, approval to operate. A five-year grace period to relocate is appropriate and we wonder if some other consideration should not be considered.

There has been much talk, and effort, about improving Guam's tourism "product." Moving the adult businesses out of the island's main tourist area will further that goal. But the move should be planned carefully so that the result is the desired one.

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