3-Day Marine Leave May Boost Local Guam Economy

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Local businesses could gain at least $330,000 from troops

By Brett Kelman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 18, 2012) – About 2,200 Marines and sailors who begin training on Guam today may be allowed a three-day liberty next week, which would inject an estimated $400,000 into the local economy.

The visiting troops from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are scheduled for training on island until Sept. 25.

During this training, they will remain on military facilities and sleep on ships in port, so they will have little impact on local businesses at first, said spokesman 1st Lt. Dave Baugh. In fact, most of their training will happen at night, and the training is designed to be quiet, so local residents might not even notice the Marines are on island, Baugh said.

However, the Marines and sailors may be allowed liberty -- which is basically vacation -- from Sept. 26 to 28, Baugh said. If they are allowed this time off, the Marines would definitely take the chance to stretch their legs, open their wallets and enjoy a "much needed break."

"This is the first time for most of us coming here, so I would anticipate a lot of people having an economic impact in restaurants and buying things for their families," Baugh said, adding later: "Everybody is going to get off the ship and spend a little money, I can assure you that."

This would not be the first time this year a Marine training has given a jolt to the local economy.

In June, a large Marine training exercise -- Exercise Geiger Fury -- brought about 700 Marines to Andersen Air Force Base for a few weeks. The Marines were housed in local hotels and spent an estimated $50 per day on food and other purchases, each, according to Pacific Daily News files.

If the Marines and sailors who are visiting are allowed liberty next week, their spending most likely will be shorter but sweeter, Baugh said.

These troops most likely will spend more than $50 per day -- and possibly a lot more -- over the three-day liberty, he said. However, even if these visiting troops spend only $50 a day, their total spending would amount to $330,000.

Spending also could be as high as $300 a day, which is an estimate previously used by tourism officials when aircraft carriers pull into Guam for a short visit. Using that estimate, the spending over the three-day liberty could approach $2 million.

Hotel rooms

Also, about 450 of the higher-ranking troops will be allowed to rent hotel rooms to spend a few nights off the ship, Baugh said.

According to Pacific Marketplaces files, the average hotel room rate is $90 a night, so if all 450 book a room for two nights, their spending could amount to another $80,000. That estimate doesn't factor for any military discounts.

The visiting Marine unit is the same unit that would partially transfer to Guam in the military buildup. The buildup is expected to relocate about 5,000 members of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to a new base in the Finegayan area of Dededo. The buildup has been stalled by controversy in Congress, however, and it is unclear when the Marine move is expected.

The training that begins today also will include some soldiers from the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, according to a military press release.

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