North Korean tensions aren’t deterring tourists from Guam

Tassanee Vejpongsa, Associated Press

A rainbow appears over Tumon Bay, Guam Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. Residents of the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam face a missile threat from North Korea.

HAGATNA, Guam — Tourists haven’t been deterred from visiting the tropical island of Guam even though the U.S. territory has been at the center of North Korean and U.S. threats during the past week.

Won Hyung-jin, an official from Modetour, a large South Korean travel agency, said several customers called with concerns, but they weren’t worried enough to pay cancellation fees for their trips.

“It seems North Korea racks up tension once or twice every year, and travelers have become insensitive about it,” Won said. His company has sent about 5,000 travelers to Guam a month this year, mostly on package tours.

The U.S. territory has a population of 160,000, but it attracted 1.5 million visitors last year. One third of Guam’s jobs are in the tourism industry.

Guam is a key outpost for the U.S. military, which uses it as a base for bombers and submarines.

The island’s sandy beaches and aquamarine waters also make it a popular getaway for travelers from Japan and South Korea. Guam is only about three hours by plane from major cities in both countries.

The number of South Korean travelers in particular has been growing lately because five low-cost airlines started flying to Guam from South Korea, said Antonio Muna, the vice president of Guam Visitors Bureau. This helped boost arrival figures to a 20-year-high in July, Muna said.

The threats came in a week in which longstanding…

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