WASHINGTON -- Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, continues to be safe despite North Korea's threats to launch ballistic missiles towards it, the island's No. 2 official said Monday.
Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio met with media in Tokyo to reassure people there that Guam remains unaffected by the communist nation's bellicose rhetoric, according to an official news release.
"I know many of you have questions about the threat from North Korea," Tenorio was quoted as saying. "Let me reassure you that first of all, the entire time that the media has been talking about this issue, our island has been safe. We remain in a state of normalcy, our beaches are filled with tourists, and it continues to be business as usual on Guam."
This AFP file photo shows a man lying on a beach in Guam. (Yonhap)
Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles into waters near Guam, ratcheting up tensions with the US. But the regime backed off last week, saying it would watch Washington's behavior a little longer.
Tensions persist as South Korea and the US kicked off annual military drills on Monday, which North Korea views as a rehearsal for an invasion. The communist nation has previously staged various provocations in protest, including its fifth nuclear test in September.
Guam is a major tourist destination, with August one of the busiest months, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau. Last August, it attracted 144,758 tourists, more than any other month. According to some estimates, Japan and South Korea account for some 90 percent of all visitors, and South Koreans alone make up 46 percent.
"Tourism is a fragile industry. Guam's brand image is built as a very safe and family friendly destination," GVB chief Nathan Denight was quoted as saying alongside Tenorio. "That's why we're here with the Lt. Governor of Guam. We want to reassure people there has been no change in Guam. Although the global spotlight has been on our island in recent days, Guam remains the same family-friendly and safe destination it has always been." (Yonhap)