The tourist authorities of the U.S. territory of Guam, at which Democratic People's Republic of Korea （DPRK） has threatened to shoot missiles, have reassured potential visitors that the region is safe, well-protected and open for business.
"Guam has enjoyed record numbers of visitors traveling to our shores this year and is on track to have the best year in the history of tourism. We invite you to continue your plans for travel to Guam, the safe and satisfying world-class destination," read the statement sent by the Guam Visitors Bureau to the Global Times Monday.
The Governor of Guam, the Honorable Eddie Baza Calvo, assured the public recently that there is no threat to the island or any of the U.S.-administered Marianas Islands, an archipelago of which Guam is the southernmost island.
Danger on the horizon
The North Korean military said that its plan to strike the area around Guam with intermediate missiles will be ready by mid-August and its implementation will depend on a decision by top leader Kim Jong-un, the country's Korean Central News Agency said Thursday.
The military said it is "seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.."
In a recent poll conducted by the Pacific Daily News on its official Twitter account, almost half of Guam's residents are "very concerned" about the threat. It gave readers three levels to assess their attitudes toward the issue, including "very concerned," "concerned" and "not concerned," the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Local resident Kate Quiambo was quoted as saying that she was so scared that she has plans to leave the island with her family. Meanwhile, resident Kenneth Leon Guerrero told the reporter that the threat was nothing more than sabre-rattling.
An employee from China CYTS Tours Holding Ltd told the Global Times that the company has not received any notice about the suspension of trips to Guam.
Ma Ding, director of overseas affairs at BTG International Travel & Tours, said that as few Chinese tourists choose to travel to Guam and prices are very high, few trips to the island are provided by the company. But Ma said that a lot of tourists have already booked trips to Saipan, another island in the Marianas archipelago, during the upcoming October National Day Holiday. He revealed some have expressed their concerns over its safety and may cancel their trips.
A spokesperson surnamed Wang from online travel platform lvmama told the Global Times that the company has received some worried messages from its clients and has already given them information. "As the number of Chinese visitors who go to Guam is small, the rising tension involving the island has limited influence on the domestic tourism industry," said Wang. The spokesperson said that the company will closely follow the situation and any government notices, making any necessary adjustments to ensure tourists' safety.
Most of the Chinese tourists interviewed by the Global Times said that they will not consider going to Guam now as they think it is too dangerous.
Guam received over 132,000 visitors in July, breaking a 20-year-old record, Xinhua reported. South Korean arrivals recorded a 25 percent increase, while U.S. mainland visitor arrivals were up 14.9 percent over the last year.
Currently, the China National Tourism Administration and the Chinese embassy in the U.S. have not released warnings on their websites.
Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that tensions between North Korea and the U.S. escalated this week amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, and he suggested Chinese tourists not risk venturing to Guam anytime soon.
Situated between Asia and the Americas, Guam is prime real estate for those looking to traverse the Pacific, for military or commercial purposes.
More than 160,000 people live there and 13,000 are either in the military or are family of service members, CNN reported.