Guam exploring “cannabis tourism” to draw in new types of visitors


Guam is looking to open itself to tourists from July. The Guam Visitors Bureau is courting potential tourists from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other markets, but acknowledges that Guam has no control over other countries’ decisions to again allow their citizens to travel abroad or lift their 14-day quarantine requirements, or when airlines will resume their flights.

Guam is a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. It’s distinguished by tropical beaches and ancient latte-stone pillars and has a distinct Spanish colonial heritage.

Recognizing challenges to reviving the island’s main industry, The Guam Daily Post queried lawmakers on how they might help tourism bounce back. The various senators responded with a diverse assortment of ideas.

Speaker Tina Muña Barnes is drafting a bill with senators Jose Terlaje and Clynton Ridgell that would implement COVID-19 testing at the airport. Ridgell also believes in diversifying the types of tourists Guam attracts – identifying cannabis and mixed martial arts as potential key industries. He is also proposing to boost agriculture to become another pillar for Guam’s economy. Ridgell, while elaborating on the potential of cannabis tourism, said the Cannabis Control Board is close to completing their rules and regulations. “I’m actively working with them to figure out how to complete the final steps, which include the need for public hearings. We’ll get this done soon and we’ll attract a new type of tourist to Guam.”

Senator Therese Terlaje, who heads the legislative committee on tourism, said everyone must ensure Guam remains a safe and clean destination and continue fortifying small businesses, health care and contingency planning. Terlaje said she also continues to advocate for reduction of the business privilege tax “for stakeholders such as locally owned tours, restaurants and shops whose employees are the backbone of the industry.”

Senator Telo Taitague said she will continue to support proposals that reduce the price of goods and services, as well as the cost of business, as Guam must do its part to stand out among competitive markets by helping businesses that help tourism. Senator Kelly Marsh said the recent downturn in tourism also offers a chance to diversify its offerings through virtual weddings or performances and other ways to remotely share Guam with the world.

Senator Mary Torres said reviving tourism will require adjusting quarantine mandates locally and in Guam’s primary markets while maintaining Guam as a safe destination – something that must be in collaboration with regional partners. Senator Sabina Perez noted that littering has been a constant detriment to tourism and has introduced a bill that funds a comprehensive island-wide clean-up programme that also promotes recycling and zero-waste initiatives.