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Gutierrez: the redesign of the Ypao park is “first and foremost” intended for local use | New






“Tenda Town,” a three-story commercial building with a large flying proa atop, is one of the attractions to be built as part of a $50 million project to improve Ypao Beach, at the site of Governor Joseph Flores Memorial Park.



On Monday, Guam Visitors Bureau officials addressed objections to the use of millions of federal pandemic recovery money to turn Ypao Beach Park into a ‘smart park’ and tourist attraction. .

“Governor. Lou wouldn’t let us continue if we took away (the residents) our rights,” GVB President Carl Gutierrez said of the plans for Ypao. “First and foremost, local use , and tourists can also enter and use it.”

Gutierrez spoke at a budget request hearing for GVB.

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero granted GVB $20 million in US bailout funding for the Ypao project, which has an initial approximate cost of $50 million. Federal spending guidelines on ARP funds broadly allow for spending to support the travel, tourism and hospitality industries, which have been impacted by the pandemic.

The proposal includes plans for a cultural center, a three-story commercial building, an exercise area, a playground and the renovation of park facilities. It is presented as “Tano I Famagu’on” or the country of children.

GVB Vice President Gerry Perez said the primary goal of the park, which will be incorporated into CHamoru’s cultural icons, is to give residents more outdoor recreation opportunities and the ability to experience CHamoru culture. . This will be leveraged to improve the destination experience for visitors.

Upgrading the park could also breathe life into the nearby Saggan Kotturan CHamoru Cultural Center, Perez said.

“This place, except for a few times a year, is dying.”

The move is part of a larger “paradigm shift” that GVB is considering for branding the island, Gutierrez said.

“We went back to the very essence of what we did in 1967 when tourism opened up,” he said, pointing out that Guam originally sold itself on its natural beauty and the culture of the Chamoru people.

“We kind of forgot the real reason people want to come to Guam,” he said, and turned to building as many hotels as possible and providing cheap flights. .

He said the Ypao project was a jumping-off point for tourism, which has stagnated since the last big leap forward: the development of the Pleasure Island neighborhood of Tumon in the 1990s.

“Since then, 20 years ago, nothing really big has been done to reshape and show that Guam is nothing more than a few hotels to stay at and beaches in front of your hotels,” he said. .

The park could also be used to spur development in the area, Gutierrez added, and GVB was in talks with owners of properties adjacent to Ypao Beach to develop a new resort. GVB also hopes to create a new parking area for Tumon at the top of the coral pit across the street through a public-private partnership, which could house a monorail or automated bus system for the village.

GVB is requesting a budget of $26.6 million for the next fiscal year.

Tourism UpdateGuam’s tourism numbers for fiscal year 2022 remain about 83% of pre-pandemic levels, Perez said, and the recovery of the international tourism market across the world remains slow.

But Guam appears to be on a more stable path to recovery, with Korea reopening and travel restrictions easing, he said. In May, the island surpassed 20,000 visitor arrivals for the first time since 2020. Despite a drop in arrivals at the start of the year due to continued fear over the omicron variant, arrivals were on track to reach the 130,000 visitors forecast for the 2022 financial year.

At the start of fiscal 2020, the island had nearly 160,000 visitors per month.

Counseling issues

GVB board meetings were suspended on May 12, following accusations made by Gutierrez against the board, including violations of the Open Government Act.

Perez said the office created a compliance and business risk oversight committee, to review whether the board’s bylaws complied with Guam law. Meetings will be suspended until the review is complete.

“This is organized under… the full authority of Chairman Carl over the administrative affairs of GVB. And Chairman Carl did this to resolve and clarify once and for all the incongruity between GVB’s enabling legislation and the Articles of Association, as this has been a source of contention among some Board members regarding the policy and advisory role, and management responsibility and administrative role.

The committee is made up of Gutierrez; Perez; Joe McDonald, Legal Counsel; and Ron Aguon, professor of public administration at the University of Guam. Perez said the committee would complete a review in 60 to 90 days.

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