Lose some, win some
Friday, 27 November 2009 03:33 by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff
Military activity affect water tourism
THE Navy expects some negative economic impacts on ocean-based tourism as a result of the construction and operation of a new port to berth an aircraft carrier at Polaris Point, according to the environmental impact statement for the military buildup.
“However, these economic impacts on tourism would be somewhat mitigated or compensated for by increased tourism from military personnel,” the study says.
Apra Harbor is the single most popular site for recreational divers and commercial diving operations.
Economic impacts on ocean-based tourism within Apra Harbor correlate to degradation of the environment, according to the impact study.
"Siltation from dredging already affects visibility and has diving business operators concerned about possible permanent coral loss,” the study states.
Even though 25 acres of coral is expected to be completely removed, the impact report states that disturbance from construction activities would be short-term and localized. Long-term operational effects on tourism would include force protection restrictions during carrier arrival and departure, hence restricting diving and tourist operations.
Despite the impact on water tourism, a survey of hoteliers concluded that they welcome the prospect of more carrier operations, because past carrier visits have always contributed positively to their occupancy levels. The study also states that historically there have been positive impacts on ocean based tourism because dive companies fly instructors out to carriers to initiate basic instruction for open-water certifications. Positive effects on ocean-based tourism volume would be countered by the prospect of increased congestion in the Apra Harbor area, the study says.
“Guam’s two major dive companies, as well as many of the smaller ones, launch their boats out of Apra Harbor and dock at Port Authority of Guam small boat basin. Military and tourist operations have conflicted in the past. Increases in military operations may increase this conflict,” states the impact report.