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The Devastating Effect of COVID-19 on the World’s Top Vacation Destination
Written by Nayun Kim | Published. 2020.09.18 22:10 | Count : 666
[A picture of Tumon Beach. Photo Credit: Nayun]

Where is the number one vacation spot for Koreans? Many conditions, such as picturesque scenery, delicious food, and close distance, must be met in order to be crowned as the top vacation spot. Among many vacation destinations, Guam is where all these conditions are satisfied. After a 4 hour and 15 minute flight, you will arrive in a new environment. Located at the center of the Pacific Ocean, Guam is famous for its breathtaking views. Emerald waves of the sea and fresh air will captivate tourists. In fact, even though Guam is a territory of America, it will provide tourists with a completely one-of-a-kind experience and this is why Koreans are more attracted to Guam. Oftentimes, you will hear Korean as you pass by the streets and enter a restaurant. Once you step into the restaurant you will also see Korean on the menu and realize that the background music playing is K-pop. Hence, Korean tourists will be able to find familiarity in this foreign country.However, even such a highly favored vacation spot could not avoid COVID -19. As a student living in Guam, it broke my heart to see the catastrophic effects that the pandemic has brought upon this wonderful island. As a small island with inadequate hospital facilities and a very few medical staff, Guam is facing a very difficult situation.

Since Guam is an island, you can see the beautiful view of the ocean wherever you go. However, despite many advantages that come with living on an island, downsides also exist. As the pandemic worsened, the island could only get its necessary supplies by boat. Guam residents grew anxious and hoarded water and food in fear before the ships were suspended. As a result, many grocery stores became empty. To solve this problem, Guam’s government allowed each household to buy only 40 bottles of 500ml water. Unfortunately, this plan also backfired. It only amplified people's anxiety and each member of the household started to buy two boxes of water individually without following the government’s instruction.

[A picture of a gas station in Guam. Photo Credit: Nayun]

As the coronavirus got worse, all the hotels, restaurants, and entertainment businesses shut down. Guam residents started to wear face shields when they went grocery shopping. Department stores, including Guam’s most famous retail brand Ross, that once had people lining up, also became empty. No cars could be seen in the parking lots of famous restaurants such as Sejong, Beach & Shrimp, and McDonald's. Even gas stations became deserted. Many workers lost their jobs and people spent their time at home, unemployed. As such, business owners are having a tremendously hard time. To find out more about this devastating situation, I met Emily Hong, who runs “System 4 U”, a beauty store located in Tumon.

[Picture of Emily Hong. Photo Credit: Emily]

To begin the interview, I asked Emily about the current situation of the store. “I can't open the store because shut down is essential until September." Then I asked her about the hardest part of the recent changes she had to make for her business. "The hardest part is paying the employees. Government subsidies have come out, but with the rent, insurance and fixed cost, there is nothing left.” She also added that her company usually has the most customers during this time of year, mainly targeting tourists. However, due to the cancellation of flights, now her company is temporarily closed but if this situation continues, she might not be able to open the company forever. Emily, who has been selling beauty supply in Guam for more than 20 years, said that the current situation is a crisis for business owners.

Not only are tourists restricted from entering Guam, but international students currently in Guam are also unable to return home as all flights have been cancelled. Besides, public school students have not been able to take online classes in Guam because many people do not have access to the internet. Hence, their grades have been replaced by ones from their previous semester.

Guam was previously the number one vacation destination that many yearned to visit. However, Guam has now become a lonely island that people cannot visit anymore. When will Guam regain its reputation and return to its daily routine? Also, when will Koreans be able to visit this beautiful island again and make unforgettable memories?




Nayun Kim
11th grade
Harvest Christian Academy

Nayun Kim  student_reporter@dherald.com

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