By Grace Stark
In the land of perpetual summer known as Guam, the tourism industry never slows — which means that Justin Choi, general manager of the burgeoning tour company Net Enterprises LLC, is one busy guy.
“I’m usually picking up tours around 6 or 7 a.m., and then answering calls until 10 or 11 p.m., so people can book tours for the next day,” Choi says. “I’m still looking to find that balance. For now, I rest in meetings.”
Choi is so busy helping to grow the business, in fact, he hasn’t been back to visit his parents in Colorado in five years. But that’s okay, he says. “Once [my wife and I] had our first baby, my parents booked tickets to come visit us right away.”
As if grandkids aren’t enough bait to visit Guam, Choi is also his parents’ only child. Choi was born in Korea and moved with his parents to Flushing, New York, when he was 8 years old. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to New Jersey, where Choi lived until his high school antics caused his father to send Choi to finish his schooling at a private school back in Korea.
In Korea, Choi finished high school, began college and then joined the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army for two years — an experience he says has given him standing and credibility among the older generation of Koreans living on Guam. “When I started working with a tobacco wholesale distributor on Guam after moving here in 2008, I did really well working with the Korean owners of Guam’s mom-and-pop shops. I could speak Korean, and I’d done the required military service, so that really helped me to forge those relationships,” he says.
Choi worked with the wholesale distributor for eight years, and during the last two, began studying up on Guam’s tourism industry. Eventually, Choi left the distributor to work for Summer Dream — a tour company under Net Enterprises — at the request of the owner, who happened to be the brother of one of Choi’s mom-and-pop shop connections.
Over the past few years since he started working at Net Enterprises, Choi has had a particular passion for giving back to the local community. “We’re really different from any other tour company here on Guam,” Choi says. He cites the company’s recent donation of four motorcycles to the Tumon police precinct, which has increased the precinct’s access to the beach to better keep tourists safe.
In addition, since last November, Net Enterprises has been providing 24-hour Korean/English translation services for the Guam Police Department, the Guam Fire Department, the airport and Guam’s hospitals, which help Korean tourists navigate the island, as well as first responders in times of crisis.
In addition to his focus on giving back to the community, Choi also wants to make Guam more accessible for every kind of traveler. “Right now, there’s not much someone in a wheelchair or on crutches can do on Guam,” Choi says. “The buses don’t even have wheelchair lifts. Net Enterprises is looking to change that. I look at people in wheelchairs, and I think, ‘What if that’s me someday? I’d still want to be able to travel.’” With 1.6 million tourists to Guam in 2016, and two million as the goal for the coming years, Choi’s focus is, “How can we make Guam accessible for everyone who wants to come here?”
Choi’s love for Guam is likely one of the reasons he wants to attract tourists to the island paradise. With the island’s perpetual summer, Choi says, “I feel like I’m lost in time here. And everything is so close, and the people are so friendly.” Choi also loves Guam’s scuba diving and is the secretary for the Korean Golf Association. His wife is the owner of local coffee shop Café Bien.