Guam is one of the closest beach paradises to Korea and travelers can rejuvenate themselves within a three-day stay on the island, Antoinette Sanford, senator of the Guam legislature, said.
Sen. Sanford, who visited Korea to participate in the Korea Travel Fair (KOTFA) that closed its four-day run on Sunday, said she was able to meet with people who share the same goal - to enhance the tourism industry.
``Korea is the number two market for Guam, following Japan. As of now, Korean tourists have many choices for travel destinations, so we try to promote the island by invigorating interest to come to Guam for its natural beauty and cultural assets, such as festivals,’’ she said in an interview with The Korea Times.
Guam will mark its 60th anniversary of Liberation Day on July 21, which commemorates the island’s liberation from Japanese occupation in 1944. Among Guam’s many festivals and events throughout the year, it is the biggest holiday, not only for its scale but also its historic significance.
Guam has been an American territory since 1898, but Japanese forces landed on the Micronesian island in 1941, occupying it until U.S. troops recaptured it in July 1944.
Since May, Guam has been hosting a variety of ceremonies, memorials, and festive events to honor those who fought for the liberation. These will culminate with a full itinerary of events to begin July 17 and continue through Liberation Day.
The island even changed the name of its main road, Marine Drive, into Marine Corps Drive two months ago to commemorate the Marine Corps who liberated Guam.
``There will be local carnivals from June, large cultural handicraft showcases, and both residents and foreigners are invited,’’ the senator said.
The most significant and most attractive event, however, will be the Mannengon Memorial Walk on July 16, she stressed. Ahead of the liberation, Guamanian prisoners were forced to march from one point of the island to another through the jungle to be killed.
``We’ll reenact the march, starting from three different concentration camps and going up to where the biggest massacre happened, the Mannengon Hill. It is a painful story that people don’t want to remember, but we’ll look it straight in the eyes, inviting Japanese people as well, and will celebrate the day to move forward in peace,’’ she said.
With its festivities, the island invites Korean tourists for experiences different from the hustle and bustle of Korean cities, the Guam native said.
``Korean consumers always look for the latest destinations, and Guam has been a place for common vacations such as honeymoons and family trips. So we want to remind people of the uniqueness of Guam, and that it is the closest and safest beach destination to Korea,’’ she said.
``There are so many things in Guam to allow you to feel renewed and good about yourself; you can be whatever you want here,’’ Sanford added.