Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Beighley: Invest in tourism, buildup

Beighley: Invest in tourism, buildup

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • January 28, 2010

When it comes to investing in the military buildup and expanding the island's tourism industry, Guam shouldn't have to choose one or the other.

Guam has the tools to balance and grow both industries, Jim Beighley, DFS Group senior vice president for Global Marketing and Market Development, told members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce.

Beighley was the keynote speaker at the Chamber's meeting at the Hyatt Regency Guam yesterday.

To revive the island's stagnant industry, the island's government and business leaders have been pursuing new tourism markets in China.

As well, the Guam Visitors Bureau is working with village mayors and other community leaders on the "We are Guam" campaign as part of its efforts to rebrand the island through authentic cultural experiences for tourists.

At the same time, the massive investments in the military buildup will inject funds into Guam's economy.

But Beighley pointed out that some elements of the buildup may conflict with tourism objectives, such as the military's proposal to limit access to some recreational and historic sites.

He said such conflicts were expected, but Guam must find a way to resolve those conflicts.

"This should not be an 'either or' discussion," he said. "Real solutions is where both sides find a way to win."

Whether it's working toward greater access to new tourism markets like China or fighting to protect Guam's culture, historic sites and natural resources in the midst of the buildup, Beighley said Guam needs to have a greater voice in Washington, D.C.

"Now more than ever, we need boots on the ground in Washington. ... It is irresponsible to think that our elected congressional official or our governor can accomplish everything on their own," he said.

He said other U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands do more to lobby in the federal government.

"We are fighting for billions of dollars of investment from other states and territories who have high unemployment and massive economic problems," he said. "We are outnumbered."

Beighley made it clear that he supported the buildup, and he understood why many people have been passionate against it.

"But as we are passionately engaged in this conversation and dialogue, we must be responsible enough to come to the table with solutions," he said. "Pointing out problems is only half the discussion and we have no time right now for that."

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