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Back Local News GHRA president: Tourism growth will require 2,600 jobs

GHRA president: Tourism growth will require 2,600 jobs

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GUAM tourism needs to fill 2,600 jobs over the next five to 10 years to meet the growing demand of the $1 billion industry, Mary Rhodes, president of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, said yesterday.

“We need to plan for growth in the future,” Rhodes said, speaking before the Rotary Club of Tumon Bay at the Guam Marriot Resort & Spa, where she presented the capstone project for her master’s program at the University of Guam.

Last year, Guam hit 1.3 million arrivals and saw the highest occupancy rate of 78 percent in many years. Guam’s 14 percent increase in arrivals last year surpassed the 5 percent increase in the Asia-Pacific, which represented the highest rate in the world.

“The increase in occupancy rate resulted in an increase in service,” Rhodes said.

The GHRA president’s 2,600 job project is higher than the estimate made by the Guam Visitors Bureau, which is 1,000 jobs.

High turnover rate

Tourism makes up 60 percent of Guam’s gross domestic product.

The challenge for the industry, Rhodes said, is retaining employees.

“The industry has a 35 percent turnover rate, which means that for every three employees, one leaves by the end of the year,” Rhodes said. “We need to find out why people leave the industry. They don’t see their jobs as a career. We need to make our industry turn jobs into a career so that they would continue on.”

She said the current employee-guest ratio on Guam is one to two, while the ratio in most destinations in Southeast Asia is three employees per one guest.

Untapped resources

Rhodes said the industry needs to explore untapped manpower resources, including high school students and individuals.

Of the 12,154 secondary students, about 600 get into tourism study but only about 65 graduate. Rhodes said the industry should push for a 10 percent increase from this number.

She said the industry must also tap individuals – about 53,000 – who are currently on public assistance.

The Department of Labor recently reported 1,200 newly created jobs.

Rhodes said the industry can work with the Labor Department to match opportunities with candidates. “We can give them training so they can become successful in the work force and don’t go back to public assistance,” she said.

There are currently 720 individuals under the Agency for Human Resources Development who have expressed their willingness to receive training. “Let’s focus on this 720 and give them training,” Rhodes said.

She said some people have misconceptions about the skill demand of tourism.

“A lot of people think they need a lot of skills, but in fact what we are really looking for are basic skills because we train internally a lot,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunities. We just need to identify them and match them with the right people.”

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