Economic Growth vs. U.S. Military’s Needs
The land issue on Guam:
ECONOMY: Tourism is the main engine of Guam’s economy, bringing in $1.5 billion yearly and generating more than half of all private revenue on the island. Nearly 1.4 million tourists came in 1996; more than 75% were Japanese. The government wants to boost the number of hotel rooms from 7,000 to 12,000 by 2001. It hopes to attract 2 million visitors a year and aims to overhaul the main hotel area and airport.
MILITARY LAND: The U.S. took over more than 65% of the island’s 212 square miles by the end of World War II. It now controls about 33%. Major holdings include Andersen Air Force Base in the north and several Navy posts, including a naval station on the southwestern coast. The military is handing over thousands of acres to Guam, including a ship repair station and two wharves at the deep-water Apra Harbor. Guam’s government took over the naval air station in 1995 and converted it to Guam International Airport.
WHAT GUAM WANTS: More beach-side land in the north and cultural sites in the south to develop as tourist attractions and hotel and tour sites. The government also is interested in using military land--much of it already developed with facilities and warehouses--to diversify the economy and decrease dependence on the fickle tourism market. Most opportunities are at Apra Harbor, now mostly belonging to the U.S. Navy. The government says the outer harbor could be used for deep-water berths to handle more big cargo vessels. Officials also envision using the harbor for transshipment of goods, cruise ships and fisheries.