GUAM. Pacific island Guam welcomed 1.55 million visitors in 2018, a marginal rise (0.4%) compared to a year earlier and a new annual record, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB).

In December alone, it hosted 146,104 visitors, 3.7% up on the same month in 2017. This made it the best month in the island’s tourism history, surpassing the previous record of 145,817 in August 2018.

Key details from the Guam tourism picture in 2018 (click to enlarge).

GVB attributed this growth to an increase in available seats capacity to Guam. There were around 982 flights for December 2018 with 197,228 seats available, a +5.68% increase on the 186,634 seats reported in December 2017.

The success of the airline incentive programme from GVB and Guam International Airport Authority continued to attract more seats to Guam. In December, United Airlines added four more flights a week between Guam and Nagoya, and T’way began its Nagoya-Guam service on 29 December. More than 130,000 seats on 700 charter flights are already scheduled for 2019.

The high levels of Japanese tourists to Guam has encouraged DFS Group to run targeted promotions at its downtown T Galleria by DFS store on the island.

The Japanese market recovery continued, with arrivals jumping +27.2% in December 2018 compared to the previous year. Korean arrivals for the month fell -8.9% due to the reduction in seats with airlines such as Korean Air and Jeju Air. However, full-year arrivals for Korea continued to show strong growth, ending with an increase of +9% on 2017.

Other markets that showed significant growth in December include the Russian Federation (+25.3%), Hong Kong (+17.1%), Taiwan (+6.8%), and the USA (+6.8%).

Lotte Duty Free Guam: Visitor growth buoyed travel retailers both on- and off-airport.

GVB President and CEO Nathan Denight said: “We congratulate everyone in the tourism industry for pushing through 2018 with fantastic results and welcoming 1.55 million visitors to our island paradise.

“We have much to look forward to in this new year as we grow and diversify in our source markets, share our Chamoru culture and work to welcome 1.6 million visitors in 2019.”