Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I hear Guam is lovely this time of year

Much as I loathe, despise, and – when it comes right down to it – out and out abhor Donald Trump, I will acknowledge that he does seem to possess some sort of talent for branding, for marketing, for giving his audience what they want.

Still, I’m scratching my head over is words of support for the president of Guam, spoken in the aftermath of Kim Jong Un’s disturbing threats to the safety and security of the island:

Mr. Trump said: “I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world. They are talking about Guam; and they’re talking about you.” And when it comes to tourism, he added, “I can say this: You’re going to go up, like, tenfold with the expenditure of no money.” (Source: NY Times)

Admittedly, Trump is past master of getting maximum bang for his buck. Just look at the bankruptcies, the flim-flam, and the vendor-screwing. Not to mention the ability to con the media into a kabillion dollars worth of free advertising during the election-cycle-that-dares-not-mention-its-name. And let’s not into the emoluments clause. (Do all those Secret Service golf cart rental feels fall under that?)

And he’s great with the memorable, colorful branding phrase.

But surely he can’t be right in his prediction that Guam will be experiencing a tenfold increase in tourism? Without spending any money?

First off, there’s that tenfold increase.

Last year, Guam hosted 1.5 million visitors (more than half a million from Korea, by the way). Tenfold would be 15 million.

I think you can support a tenfold increase if you’re starting with a pretty low base. Say, 1,000. Or even 10,000.

But going from 1.5 million to 15 million – over whatever reasonable period of time (and, perhaps cagily, Trump didn’t predict when this tenfolding would occur) – is pretty much unfathomable. And 15 million visitors to a country the size of Guam – population 160K. Well…

This type of growth would be plenty difficult to achieve under normal circumstances. Let alone abnormal circumstances. I.e., a proven madman threatening to drop bombs off your coast, while another likely madman is threatening to end the world as we know it, including setting off a war that will domino-effect end in the obliteration of the source of so much of Guam’s tourist traffic (i.e., from South Korea and Japan).

Sure, Guam has become “extremely famous all over the world.” But not for its waving palms, sunny days, and pristine beaches. Which I assume is what Guam has on offer. Most of what I know about Guam is that tit was the site of a major battle during WWII, that it’s an important military location for the US, and that, even if they can’t vote, Guam sends folks to our political conventions. They wear funny hats and, when they cast their votes, they always give a shout out to being the place where it’s tomorrow before anyplace else in the States.

But really and truly, is anyone actually looking up from their TV, turning to their spouse and saying, “Honey, how about Guam this year?”

Maybe Donald, Melania, and Barron can upstakes from Bedminster, NJ, and spend the last few days of their vacation in Guam, just as a show of faith and good will. Putting his – or, rather, the taxpayers’ – money where his tenfold mouth is. Or perhaps Ivanka and Jared can spin over with the kids, when Jared gets back from his upcoming deployment to the Mideast – once he delivers regional peace, that is.

I mean, wouldn’t the saber-rattling (make that nuke-rattling) on both sides give you some pause? If you want aquamarine waters and umbrella drinks, wouldn’t you be better off going to someplace in the Caribbean that’s not in Kim Jong Un’s gun sights?

That’s for new tourists, of course. The ones who’ll make up part of the tenfold increase.

Apparently, those who’re already committed to a trip to Guam are hanging in there. Or at least the tourist bureau folks are wishing and hoping that this will be the case.

The Guam Visitors Bureau has heard reports of cancellations, but [the Bureau’s Antonio] Muna said it doesn't yet have any concrete figures on how many took place. Officials are still expecting a strong August, Muna said…"Japan and Korea make over 90 percent of our arrivals. And they're much closer to North Korea than Guam is," Muna said. (Source: OregonLive)

Way to spin things, Mr. Muna: “Hey, Korean and Japanese tourists, come to Guam. Because, when you think about it, your countries are more likely to get nuked out of existence than we are. So come on over.”

Why that’s actually a spin worthy of one Donald J. Trump. Maybe marketing genius is actually contagious.

I’ll have to keep my eye on Guam’s tourism stats, but I’m not holding my breath about that 10x happening anytime soon.

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