‘Cope North’ Exercise May Hamper Tourism On Guam

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‘Cope North’ Exercise May Hamper Tourism On Guam Businesses may benefit, but visitors may not find accommodations

By Joy White

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Feb. 6, 2013) – Guam restaurants, hotels, bars and retailers are looking forward to the expected increase in business activity from military personnel participating in the ongoing Cope North military exercise.

With close to 2,000 servicemen on the island, who are estimated to spend $225 per person a day, the military exercise may bring close to $500,000 in business activity to Guam tourism.

For industry stakeholders, however, the timing may be off.

Local business experts say the military exercise may pose a strain on tourist operations during the peak season when Asians are embarking on Chinese New Year travels.

Bart Jackson, chairman of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association and president of Hotel Santa Fe, said the average room rate per day of about $120, plus about $50 to $75 a day spent on leisure activities, add up to a considerable cash flow into the economy.

Jackson said Guam’s 27 hotels can get fully booked, and Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Russian tourists get turned away, even with around 300 military personnel staying at Ukudu Workforce Village, a housing facility that provides accommodations for temporary workers.

While the local business sector appreciates the military presence and its big boost to the island economy, Jackson said military business pushes out tourist business.

Karl Pangelinan, director of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said military customers are beneficial to the community, but "from a timing perspective, sometimes it does go up against our peak seasons with our Asian tourists."

Restaurant owners are optimistic just the same.

Lerma Aquino, Guam business director of T.G.I. Fridays, recalled a rise in business when the exercise was conducted last year. "It was beneficial for us last year and hopefully will be same," she said.

For the next two weeks, approximately 1,000 United States Air Force members, 350 Japan Air Self-Defense Force members, and 300 Royal Australian Air Force members will be participating in the exercise. A large number of the Japan and Australian personnel will be staying in Tumon.

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