Boost to Guam tourism with new United Airlines flights from Asia

HAGATNA – United Airlines has launched daily direct flights between South Korea and Guam for the first time, serving a market that helped boost Guam’s tourism industry when the number of visitors from Japan declined.

“As Guam’s hometown airline, we are delighted to bring additional economic benefits to our tourism industry and further expand the extensive route network from our Guam hub,” said Sam Shinohara, United’s managing director for business development in the Asia-Pacific.

United also is launching twice-weekly direct flights between Guam and Shanghai, the Pacific Daily News reported Tuesday ( ).

Japan was Guam’s top source of visitors for decades, but experts say the number of travellers from Japan is declining because of the country’s aging population and the weakened value of the yen against the U.S. dollar. Guam’s tourism industry has been working on improving its secondary visitor markets.

During the fiscal year that ended in September, Guam saw its arrivals from Japan fall to 825,830 visitors, a 10 per cent drop from the previous year.

By contrast, the number of visitors travelling from South Korea to Guam grew 26 per cent to 293,537 during the last fiscal year. The additional South Korean tourists helped offset the decrease in arrivals from Japan.

Before United merged with Continental Airlines, Continental had direct flights between South Korea and Guam. That service stopped in 2001 during the Asian economic downturn and during travel fears after Sept. 11.

United’s parent company is now United Continental Holdings Inc.