The Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) marked an important milestone in the shared history of Taiwan and Guam in celebrating the 50th anniversary of a significant sister city agreement.

Guam signed the sister city agreement with Taipei City on January 12, 1973, by the island’s first elected Governor, Carlos Camacho, and then Taipei Mayor, Chang Feng-hsu. Overall, this is the third sister city agreement signed between Taipei City and the United States.

Led by GVB President & CEO Carl T.C. Gutierrez, a small delegation from Guam travelled to Taipei to host a special gala that brought together more than 80 Taiwanese government officials, travel trade, international media, airline partners, and tourism industry experts.

“This golden anniversary of our sister city agreement with Taipei City is a celebration of Guam’s role in diplomatic relations and cultural ties with the Taiwanese people over the last several decades,” said GVB President & CEO Gutierrez. “We are proud to reconnect with Taiwan as we seek to expand opportunities beyond tourism.”

Inalåhan Mayor Anthony Chargualaf, Humåtak Mayor Johnny Quinata, and Mayors’ Council Executive Director and Guam Department of Education Board Member Angel Sablan were also invited to be part of GVB’s mission to share ideas and learn about projects in culture, business, education, tourism and other fields that could stimulate new opportunities of growth for the island. They also conducted a special presentation at the 50th-anniversary event.

“We thought, what can we bring to the Taipei government to signify this event of the sister city signing in Guam 50 years ago?” said Mayors’ Council Executive Director Sablan. “I looked at our files, and I found the resolution signed by the mayors of Guam, back then called commissioners, and the mayor of Taipei – the late Chang Feng-hsu.

“We proudly presented the documents signed 50 years ago to the Taipei government at the gala and put a seal from the Mayor’s Council of Guam that indicates that we want to go another 50 years. Of the 24 people that signed these documents, only four are alive today.

“But I can tell you their DNA are in these documents. So, they are alive in these documents, and they will always be alive because their DNA is here.” The Guam delegation also met with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which is essentially the US embassy in Taiwan, and members of the Taipei City government to discuss economic opportunities that mutually benefit Taiwan and Guam.

“After 50 years, lots of things have changed, but only one thing has remained unchanged, and that’s our friendship as well as our intentions to work together to strengthen our bilateral relations further,” said Taipei City Government Counselor of International & Mainland Affairs Gordon C.H. Yang.

“I would like to express our appreciation for the Governor of Guam to offer representation here in Taipei from the Guam Visitors Bureau through the Guam Taiwan Office. We look forward to moving our relations beyond tourism and travel to other areas such as economic and cultural activities, agriculture trade, medical support, and even regional security.”

AIT Acting Deputy Director Brent Omdahl also pitched to airline partners during his remarks at the gala event to bring back direct service to Guam. He stated the benefits would be immense to include new businesses in Taiwan’s agricultural exports that could bring fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and other products into the US market through Guam.

“Outside of Asia, the United States is the number one destination for Taiwan travellers. About 16% of international travellers from Taiwan travel to the United States. Many of those in the past have gone to Guam. Unfortunately, since the pandemic hit, that direct flight to Guam has taken a back seat,” said AIT Acting Deputy Director Omdahl.

“There’s nothing more that could be done to improve trade relations, to improve tourism, to improve investment and, as Gordon mentioned, improve the security situation in the Asia Pacific than for a direct flight to be re-established between Taipei, Taiwan, and Guam.” Omdahl noted direct flights would be an economic benefit to deepen medical tourism opportunities for travellers coming from Guam and other locations in the United States that seek medical care.

With active discussion of the resumption of direct air service to Guam on the table, Taiwanese travel agents Spunk Tours, Phoenix Travel, and Lion Travel worked with airline partner Starlux to schedule four direct charter flights to Guam for the Chinese New Year. The charters will begin on January 20, 2023, bringing over 700 travellers from Taiwan to Guam.