Millions of dollars in federal pandemic recovery funding in Guam will be used to improve the Ipao Beach State Park, turning it into a unique interactive tourist attraction and a place for residents to spend time, learn about and share Chamoru culture. Guam Tourist Office.
Lou Leon Guerrero’s government gave GVB $20 million under the American Rescue Plan to fund the project, which is expected to cost a total of $50 million, said Niko Fujikawa, GVB director of tourism research and strategic planning.
The $20 million is part of the $570 million received by Guam from the American Rescue Plan, money that can be allocated at the governor’s discretion under federal spending guidelines to help Guam recover from the pandemic.
The island’s tourism industry has been shut down for most of the pandemic, but recently tourists have begun to return in greater numbers after airlines increased flights to the island and South Korea made it easier for its citizens to return home without quarantine.
Fujikawa said the GVB began discussing and planning improvements to the park last fall.
“Now that we are about to start global competition for international markets again, what is our draw? What is the attraction of Guam? Fujikawa said. “The (GVB) team agreed that we rely too much on our beaches… Bali has beaches, Hawaii has beaches. This is not a unique attraction. He said the new park, Tano and Famaguon, is based on the premise that “the local experience is the visitor’s experience.”
“Essentially, we are creating a new experience for the people of Guam and then making it appealing to the whole world,” he said.
The project, which translates to “land of children,” is billed as a “smart park” that will include interactive features for visitors.
“Imagine a park soaked in Chamoru culture, icons, but everything has a digital component. You can scan everything. There is augmented reality, live photos. There is geocaching – everything that interacts with what you are immersed in,” said Fujikawa. “We’re trying to make culture and a lot of the things we grew up with accessible through digital media.”
Fujikawa said the project is in line with the Governor of Guam’s vision for tourism, and she is very supportive of it.
“We already have our concept” and an attempt to complete the project by 2025, he said. The Governor “totally agrees with that, she is committed to the project and it has really been a catalyst for us to move it forward.”
The project will be implemented in phases, and Fujikawa said the plan is to use federal grants given to local governments to pay for the full construction. For example, the Guam Arts and Humanities Council may receive a grant to build…