Guam’s free COVID-19 testing for tourists is scheduled to end on Sept. 30, amid the lifting of most pandemic travel restrictions by Japan, South Korea and other main tourism markets.
Nearly 100,000 visitors availed of Guam Visitors Bureau free testing program, in partnership with private clinics and the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
GVB in 2021 approved the free testing for visitors as an incentive for tourists to return to Guam after the pandemic.
That’s $150 to $175 that each tourist to Guam does not need to spend, since the cost is covered by GVB.
“Since our source markets have eased border controls, there isn’t demand for pre-testing and we have begun to scale down the testing sites with the Department of Public Health and Social Services,” GVB Vice President Gerry Perez said on Monday.
However, in those rare cases where testing is required, Public Health and private clinics would be the best places to go, he said.
Two of the four Tumon sites providing visitors with free PCR and antigen tests closed Sunday.
Testing is no longer being provided at Pacific Islands Club Guam and Hotel Nikko Guam.
Only the testing sites at Hyatt Regency Guam and The Plaza Shopping Center in Tumon remain open for travel testing, according to GVB. They’re open from 9 am-noon and 2-4 pm
GVB spent at least $3 million to provide free COVID-19 testing and related expenses, from an initial investment of $1 million. Public Health subsidized the rest of the resources to support the program
Perez said of the nearly 100,000 visitors who participated, about 27,650 were visitors from March to June 2022, when five private clinics helped. Some 67,797 visitors participated when GVB partnered with Public Health from June 13 to Sept. 17.
About 1,028 locals also took advantage of the free testing, he said.
Korea and Japan are no longer requiring proof of negative COVID-19 test results prior to citizens’ re-entry.
Other destinations such as the Philippines and the Federated States of Micronesia still require negative COVID-19 test results for entry or re-entry.
“We projected about 130,000 visitors would be recorded for this fiscal year, but we believe the free testing helped generate a lot of interest in our source markets, particularly Korea,” Perez said of Guam’s total visitor arrivals, now nearing 200,000.
By June this year, the United States along with Guam and other territories also dropped the requirement of showing proof of negative COVID-19 testing to board a flight. GVB had said doing away with testing requirements helped with tourism recovery.
Guam has seen an uptick in monthly arrivals during the summer months. Tourism’s current state and recovery are among topics during GVB’s membership forum at 11 am Wednesday.
The bureau is also expected to report on its fiscal 2022 and 2023 budgets.
Also among topics are remedial and corrective actions as a result of GVB bylaws’ review. In May, the GVB board voted to cancel all its meetings until the review was finished and corrective actions were taken. The vote came after GVB President Carl Gutierrez accused the board of overstepping its duties and functions, and violating open government law by allegedly meeting in private and voting for GVB initiatives and programs that benefit their businesses.