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Donald Trump tells Guam governor North Korea nuclear threat will boost tourism 'tenfold'

Local experts are more sceptical about the threat of nuclear war having a positive impact

Ravneet Ahluwalia
Monday 21 August 2017 16:16 BST
Guam has hit the headlines this week
Guam has hit the headlines this week (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Donald Trump has told the governor of Guam the island has nothing to fear from North Korea and boasted that it will see a tenfold increase in tourism as a result of the nuclear threat.

In a phone call with Guam Governor Eddie Calvo, which was posted on Calvo’s YouTube channel, the 45th president said: “You are safe. We are with you 1,000 per cent.”

Trump then added: “I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world.

“They are talking about Guam and they are talking about you. I can say this – you are going to go up, like, tenfold with the expenditure of no money."

North Korea threatened to fire ballistic missiles at the US territory last week, thrusting the tiny Pacific island into the headlines.

Yesterday the lieutenant governor of Guam, Ray Tenorio, also spoke out to reassure visitors to Guam. In a statement he said: "Let me reassure you that first of all, the entire time that the media has been talking about this issue – our island has been safe.

“We remain in a state of normalcy, our beaches are filled with tourists, and it continues to be business as usual on Guam."

Nate Denight, the Guam Visitors Bureau president, backed this up by adding: "Although the global spotlight has been on our island in recent days, Guam remains the same family-friendly and safe destination it has always been."

The tropical island draws more than 1.5 million tourists a year who come for its secluded beaches, accessible hiking, lush forests and water sports. Guam welcomed a record numbers of visitors in 2016 and last month saw an 8 per cent visitor increase compared to the previous July, suggesting that the upward trend is set to continue in 2017.

Around 50 per cent of Guam’s economy is generated by tourism, with the rest dependant on the American military, who occupy 30 per cent of the island with two large bases.

Local experts however are sceptical of President Trump’s grandiose claims about the benefits of the potential nuclear crisis.

Dr Fred Schumann, an international tourism expert and Associate Professor at the University of Guam, said: “Increasing tourism arrivals tenfold will bring our arrivals up to 15 million per year, which will be undesirable for most of the island's 165,000 residents.

“I understand that President Trump has a tendency to exaggerate in his speech, but even if we are talking about doubling or tripling our current arrivals, it is most likely not going to happen just from the exposure the island is getting in the media from the exchange between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

“Sure, we will have individuals from outside of our region that will see images of the island and comment on how beautiful it is, and some may even take the extra step to explore travel opportunities to the island. However, the perception of safety is still a consideration for many travellers and repeat visits are what the destination will need to sustain the arrival figures.

“Guam will always welcome responsible tourists. As such, being caught in the middle of the escalating rhetoric between the US and North Korea is not something that residents and tourism stakeholders see as a clever strategy for increasing tourism arrivals.”

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