Shopping ‘Origs” in Guam 24/7 at 50% Off

Sep 7, 2017

by

 

A growing number of Filipino shoppers are finding out there’s more to the U. S. territory nearest to the Philippines than just military bases.

 

While only two percent of the 1.53 million visitors who visited Guam last year were Filipinos, there’s an increasing excitement among holiday travelers that U.S. style shopping at a fraction of the mainland costs is only a 3.5 hour jaunt in the same airlines and aircraft they’ve been used to riding in domestically.

 

Susan Fryer, Mai Perez and Carmel Carpio share a hearty guffaw at Tumon Sands Plaza

Susan Fryer, Mai Perez and Carmel Carpio share a hearty guffaw at Tumon Sands Plaza

“We had 28,000 visitors from the Philippines last year. It’s still small and we’re trying to grow it and we’re very grateful there are now 3 carriers servicing the Philippines to Guam (PAL, CEB and United). We value our partnership with these airlines,” said Pilar Laguaña, Director of Global Marketing, Guam Visitors Bureau, during an interview with a group of journalists from the Visayas and Mindanao who underwent a recent famtour of the island courtesy of the Cebu Pacific Air and the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB).

 

“It’s been growing, in the past it was just around 9-10,000 but it grew and with Cebu Pacific coming in as a player, it has helped Filipinos get to the US very cheap, especially with the promotions,” said Carmel R. Carpio, GVB, Philippine Market Account Director.

 

As stated in its official website, GVB is the official marketing agency of the Government of Guam tasked with promoting and developing Guam as a viable destination overseas. Tourism provides over 50% of the Gross Island Product and is considered as the main economic driver of Guam’s economy.

 

Shopping in Guam

 

“Shopping remains one of the most favorite activities of tourists,” said Ms. Laguaña. “Luxury items are anywhere from 30-40%,or even 50% less the cost, depending if they catch it on a sale but on the norm it’s like 30% cheaper.”

 

Great buys await at Guam Premium Outlet (GPO)

Great buys await at Guam Premium Outlet (GPO)

Ms. Laguaña stressed that the Guam government only allows authentic merchandise to be sold in the island’s malls and stores since its retail industry is governed by the same laws and regulations as the US mainland.

 

“They can find the real product here. We do not allow counterfeit merchandise in our island. It’s against the law and our retail industry is very firm about not selling counterfeit products,” she emphasized.” So if you buy an item here you’re getting the authentic merchandise so there’s no worry on the consumers’ part.”

 

Not only are authentic premium and signature items available at lower prices due to the island’s tax-free status and sale events, the shops are also open round the clock.

 

“You can shop 24 hours. You can shop till you literally drop. You can shop any hour of the day and you can find everything from high end luxury goods all the way to your everyday household goods,” Ms. Laguaña said.

 

Guam has high-end shops at the DFS Galleria, Tumon Sands Plaza, and the Plaza at the Outrigger. It has the world’s largest Kmart, the Guam Premium Outlets, Micronesia Mall and Agana Shopping Center where you can buy clothing, shoes, accessories, island souvenirs, food, beverages, and toiletries.

 

Tumon Sands Plaza

 

One of the first stops was the upscale Tumon Sands Plaza at Tumon, the central business district of Guam where we were hosted by Susan Fryer, Shopping Center Manager and Mai Mimura Perez, Customer Service and Marketing Manager.

The Atrium at Tumon Sands Plaza

The Atrium at Tumon Sands Plaza

 

“We have all kinds of brands here Balenciaga, Chloe, Givenchy, Furla, Anteprima, Bally, Gucci, Tiffany, Rolex, Louise Vitton, Swarovsky, and Kenzo which is opening up next month,” Ms. Fryer said.

 

Tumon Sands Plaza, will celebrate its 45th anniversary this November, has over 20 tenants but is currently refocusing from purely branding to include restaurants and entertainment which will be accommodated in its first and second levels. It is has a sister company Guam Premier Outlet (GPO) and the two bill themselves as “The Best of Both Worlds” as consumers can browse through high end or outlet shops with a free shuttle between the two.

 

“You have to go with the trend. Nowadays, a lot of tourists don’t go for brand names, they go for the good value, more affordable,” said Ms. Fryer. “Actually now most of our tourists come here to experience life here in Guam, what we have to offer aside from shopping.  They like to play golf, they like to drive around and discover the natural beauty of Guam.”

 

Ms. Carpio disclosed how GVB is positioning Guam as a shopping destination in the Philippines.

 

“Because of tax free shopping, we have all the high end brands here, we have sports as well, we have shops that are open 24/7, we have shops that are open 1am, you know how Filipinos are, they love to shop,” she noted.

 

Besides being tax free and the convenience of round the clock shopping, Ms. Fryer noted Filipinos like to go to Guam to shop because they find the styles they want here which are not available in the Filipinos’ traditional shopping mecca in Hong Kong.

 

To get even more value for their shopping money, Ms. Fryer said many Filipino tourists to Guam do their shopping during the traditional Black Friday Sale held the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday also is the de facto start of holiday shopping season.

 

An evening stroll by Tumon Sands Plaza

An evening stroll by Tumon Sands Plaza

Ms. Perez also advises shoppers to be aware of other peak shopping dates for other nationalities such as the Japanese Summer Peak Season and Golden Week (between end of April and start of May).

 

“August 15 (Obon Festival) is biggest season for Japan market, even for Koreans,” she noted. “Golden Week is the longest vacation period of the year for many Japanese workers. Two other Japanese holidays are observed for most or all of a week: Japanese New Year in January and Obon Festival in August. Golden Week is a popular time for holiday travel.”

 

Where America’s Day Begins

 

“Guam is the nearest US destination to the Philippines, so it’s very ideal especially when we have long weekends. Filipinos love to travel to go out of town especially on long weekends, and Guam’s the perfect place. You get to enjoy the beach and surf, and at the same time you get to enjoy ga-ga over shopping,” Ms. Carpio added.

 

Great value for money at ABC Stores

Great value for money at ABC Stores

Chimed in Ms. Fryer: “Filipinos love to step into the US and this is the first flight to the US that they can go in. It’s the nearest and the cheapest US destination Filipinos can go to.”

 

Not to mention that Filipinos, among its many tourists, would feel right at home in Guam.

 

“Guam is a melting pot full of nationalities from all walks of life.  But it is a fact that our biggest ethnic group here in Guam besides our local ones are Filipinos,” Ms. Laguaña noted.

 

Filipino Community

 

In fact, Filipinos are a major component of Guam’s economy.

 

“Oh they help tremendously. They’re part of our retail industry, our F&B industry, they are part of our hospitality industry in the hotels and restaurants. Everywhere you go in Guam you will find Filipinos. They’re a very significant community of citizens and we could not have done so well in our economy if it was not for the vibrant and active role our Filipino community engages in,” Ms. Laguaña said. “They are active in everything not just on the business side but also on the social civic side. They are some of the most energetic volunteers to help our communities in different types of non-profit organizations.”

 

Still a bit too early for Breakfast at Tiffany's

Still a bit too early for Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“Guam only has a population of  160,000 and 30-40% of those are Filipinos. We also get a lot of visitors from the Philippines who come here to visit their families and friends. And when they’re here, they end up shopping.”

 

“Those who have the means to shop for expensive things, they’re here on Guam for several things, but top of mind would be golf and shopping. Guam has seven of the most beautiful golf courses in the world. We also get many Filipino celebrities who come here because Guam allows them to play golf and shop anonymously,” Ms. Carpio added.

 

Not the least, Ms. Laguaña assures visitors to Guam it is perfectly safe despite the recent saber rattling by North Korea.

 

“We became the most famous island in the world in a matter of three days we’re on every newspaper, every TV channel, it is a fact we were headliners for about a week!”she exclaims.“What we assure people is that Guam is very safe. We are a US territory that’s very significant to the US, and in fact our tourist arrivals never decreased, in fact it increased!”

Cebu Pacific flies three times weekly to Guam (Tue/Thu/Sat)  departing NAIA III at 4:10AM and arriving in Guam 9:50AM (Guam is two hours ahead of Manila). Return flights depart for Manila on the same dates 12:00NN and arrives Manila at 1:55PM.

 

-30-

 

Share this Post: