Sunday, December 9, 2001

Marathon entrants
from Japan drop by
more than a third

Economists say one extra traveler
visits for every 2 runners

By Russ Lynch

Japan visitors for today's Honolulu Marathon -- entrants and friends and family -- are down more than a third from last year but still very good as far as Seiji Naya, director of the state Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism, is concerned.

Three weeks ago, with travel numbers lagging in the wake of Sept. 11, Naya said that he would be happy with 10,000 entrants from Japan for the event, which would be a dip of 25 percent from 13,319 last year.

Japanese entrants didn't make the 10,000 level -- 8,702 had registered as of the end of the day Thursday -- dropping attendance figures 35 percent from last year.

But DBEDT's economists figure there would be one additional traveler for every two runners, so the event-related visitor traffic from Japan came to 13,053 by that calculation.

Marathon entrants may be more determined to travel than their vacationing countrymen. During the first six days of December, overall visitors from Japan dropped 40 percent from the same period a year ago, to 19,732, according to DBEDT figures.

Naya said Friday that he thinks the ratio of two runners for one extra friend or family member is conservative. He knows of one or two runners who are accompanied by four or five others, he said.

Either way, he welcomes the marathon as a contributor to the Hawaii economy, more than welcome in hard times.

A spreadsheet developed by DBEDT, which uses the estimate of one added visitor for every two runners, now shows total marathon-related purchases in Hawaii of just under $60 million, producing tax revenues of $3.47 million.

The Honolulu Marathon organization said that as of late Thursday it had 6,451 Hawaii resident entries, 8,702 from Japan, 6,563 from the mainland and 749 from foreign countries other than Japan, for a total of 22,465.

That was 15.1 percent below the 2000 event's total of 26,465 but still very positive considering the current state of the word's economies and international travel, local tourism officials say.

The Honolulu Marathon

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