Last weekend, the Guam Visitors Bureau celebrated its 50th anniversary as an autonomous Government of Guam agency and celebrated the men and women who GVB says "pioneered" our visitor industry which has brought 1.18 million tourists to Guam this year. The list was long and very noteworthy. But I must write that there were at least two notable figures who were missing from that list. Not sure if it was an oversight or chalk it up to politics.
The first is former Guam Governor Carl Gutierrez. The architect behind the Pleasure Island in Tumon and the man who pushed an aggressive visitor agenda that yielded 1,381,513 tourists to Guam in 1997 was not a part of the recent GVB acknowledgements. Governor Gutierrez was actively in his two terms reaching to new markets including Australia and Europe to bring new investment and opportunities.
The other is former Guam Governor Carlos Camacho. The last appointed and first elected Governor of Guam is credited for among other things bringing a brash young tourism professional from Alabama named Bert Unpingco back home to draw more people to Guam and its fledgling industry. Governor Camacho also was the man who brought the "sister city" agreements to the fold and started with Taipei City, Taiwan upon his election in 1970 which has yieled over 330,000 visitors to Guam in just the last 10 years alone. He is also credited a number of other agreements that has been the modern Guam feeder of tourists to our island now.
These two would have been my vote to be honored if asked-I wasn't. I did not mention the younger former Guam Governor Felix Camacho who ushered in the inclusion of Russian visitors we have today and his work with another noted leader-current Guam Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo-who ensured the passage of the China and Russia Visa Waiver legislation on Capitol Hill.
The funny thing about these types of events is that you run the risk of missing people who should be honored similarly. From experience, these oversights are not pretty. In fact, they can be downright painful.
Message to GVB-you had a whole year to figure this out and how quickly you forgot some of the people whom you ushered all across the Pacific Rim and beyond, whom you asked to speak at your countless events and whom you sought counsel to ensure continued funding for your work both here and abroad.
Maybe the pioneers honored should have been the past and current staff at GVB. They did all the heavy lifting. They executed what the Board of Directors charged them to do. They are tourism for Guam.
We should always think through some of these actions.
Earlier I noted that the exclusions may have been political. That might be somewhat true. It is hard to place four of Guam's living Governors in one room in the climate today-a month shy from the start of the new election cycle. But what is the harm in bringing them into a room to celebrate our economic life blood-tourism.
They and everyone that worked for them also contributed to growing tourism over the past five decades. Let's see what the 60th anniversary of GVB shapes into and make this right.