HAGATNA, US - The US Pacific territory of Guam will offer visitors a COVID-19 vaccination with their tropical holiday, in a bid to restart its struggling tourism industry.
Dubbed 'Air V&V' -- vacation and vaccination -- the program is primarily aimed at US expatriates in the Asia-Pacific region, although other nationalities can participate.
Guam has limited COVID-19 infections and a high vaccination rate among the local population thanks to one of the most effective roll-outs in the region.
And that makes the island an attractive destination for vaccine tourists, said Visitors Bureau president Carl Gutierrez.
"This program captures a unique demographic of travelers around the world that are tired of waiting to get vaccinated in this pandemic," he said.
Guam's Governor Lou Leon Guerrero signed off on the initiative last week, and is expected to relax quarantine rules early next month so it can proceed.
Based on health department protocols, travelers will have to undergo a seven-day quarantine at a self-paid facility upon arrival to Guam.
If they pass a coronavirus test on day six, they will be allowed out the next day to enjoy an unrestricted beachside holiday.
Participants in the program can choose between the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Gutierrez said the first charter flight was expected from Taiwan on July 6 and up to 30,000 people were forecast to take advantage of the scheme by the end of the year.
A dozen hotels in the tourist district of Tumon have started booking Air V&V packages, with local medical clinics set to administer the jabs.
Tourism is Guam's second-largest economic driver after the island's US military bases, but a University of Guam study estimated that arrivals slumped 76 percent last year compared with 2019.
Gutierrez said Air V&V "will give a shot in the arm to our tourism industry through this unique and valuable service, offering more opportunities to put our people back to work and get our economy roaring again".