Typhoon’s hit to Guam tourism likely to last at least two years

Typhoon Mawar’s negative impact on Guam’s tourism industry is likely to persist for at least two years, the Guam Visitors Bureau said Tuesday.

Mawar brought sustained wind speeds greater than 140 miles per hour to the island last week, equivalent to the second most intense category of hurricanes.

The bureau predicted the island would see 400,000 visitors this fiscal year, fiscal 2023, compared to the 670,000 it had predicted. It said between 550,000 and 600,000 people would likely visit in fiscal 2024. Tourism is an important part of Guam’s economy.

The Guam Visitors Bureau is a nonprofit under the indirect control of Guam’s government.

“Guam’s recovery costs for the damage caused by the typhoon will likely be significant relative to the territory’s resources, but federal disaster relief should help by partially offsetting expenses and accelerating recovery; [the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency] will reimburse not less than 75% of eligible costs for emergency measures and permanent restoration,” said Moody’s Investors Service Vice President William Oh. “Additionally, while the port and airport sustained some damage that will need to be remediated, they have both resumed operations and expect to progress toward normal operations over the next several weeks.”

A significant portion of the island remains without power, and the governor has indicated it may take up to a month for power to be fully restored, Oh said.

“The Guam Waterworks Authority has deployed four water tanks around the island as it continues to work on restoring water to residents,” Oh said. “We’ll have a better sense of the full credit impact once a more comprehensive damage assessment is done, as well as how much the island receives in federal aid and insurance reimbursements.”

Moody’s rates the island government’s general obligation and special tax bonds Ba1 and its certificates of participation Ba2. In March it raised the ratings’ outlooks to positive from stable.

There is currently a bill for the sale of general obligation bonds in the island’s legislature.

Also in March, Moody’s raised the outlook on the A. B. Won Guam International Airport bonds’ Baa2 rating to stable from negative. It did so because of expectations enplanement levels would continue to increase from COVID-19 related lows.

S&P Global Ratings rates the island government’s GO bonds BB-minus and the business privilege tax bonds BB. It rates the COP’s B-plus.

On Sunday, Fox Weather reported satellite images show Mawar demolished about one in five Guam homes.

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