HAGATNA (Guam) • If there is one thing Guam does not have to worry about while the tiny island is in the nuclear crosshairs of North Korea, it is tourism, President Donald Trump told the island's governor in a phone call made public.
The threat by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to create "an enveloping fire" around the tiny US territory in the Western Pacific will boost Guam tourism "tenfold", Mr Trump said in the recorded conversation on Saturday with Governor Eddie Calvo.
The recording was put on the Republican governor's Facebook page and other social media accounts.
Mr Trump said: "I have to tell you, you have become extremely famous all over the world. They are talking about Guam; and they are talking about you."
And when it comes to tourism, he added: "I can say this: You are going to go up, like, tenfold, with the expenditure of no money."
Mr Calvo agreed: "It is a paradise. We have got 95 per cent occupancy and after all this stuff calms down, we are going to have 110 per cent occupancy."
Mr Trump responded: "You just went to 110, I think."
GOVERNOR'S TAKE ON TOURISM
It is a paradise. We have got 95 per cent occupancy and after all this stuff calms down, we are going to have 110 per cent occupancy.
GOVERNOR EDDIE CALVO
PRAYING FOR CALM
We pray day and night... And we hope that calmness prevails and balance prevails. We certainly don't want to do anything that would put our families at risk.
MS MARGARET METCALFE, director of Mr Calvo's Washington office, on the threats issued by North Korea.
Efforts to reach the White House for comment were not immediately successful.
Guam's US$5 billion (S$6.8 billion) economy is fuelled mainly by tourism and the US military, which occupies about 30 per cent of the island and is looking to expand.
The island, roughly the size of Chicago and home to about 160,000 people, is about 3,400km south-east of North Korea.
"We are with you 1,000 per cent," Mr Trump said in the call to Mr Calvo, who invited the President to the island.
"It just looks like a beautiful place," Mr Trump said. He had threatened to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea for any provocation.
Alluding to Mr Kim, he told the governor: "You notice he hasn't spoken recently. He doesn't talk so much any more. We will see how it all works out."
Mr Calvo told Mr Trump he had "never felt more safe or so confident than with you at the helm... we need a president like you".
Tourists, for the most part, seem to be undeterred by the threats. Few have so far cancelled vacations, Guam's Pacific Daily News reported last week.
Residents have remained calm, even as the government advises them on what to do in case of a missile attack. Others have stocked up on bottled water, batteries and portable fans, but those are staples for prepping for typhoons, according to the Pacific Daily News.
"It is business as usual" on the island, as the Guam Chamber of Commerce said earlier this week in response to North Korea's threats.
Still, Ms Margaret Metcalfe, director of Mr Calvo's Washington office, said: "We pray day and night... And we hope that calmness prevails and balance prevails. We certainly don't want to do anything that would put our families at risk."
NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST