Advertising Hawaii to Japan
A state-funded marketing agency aims to improve the quality of tourists
The number of visitors from Japan continued rebounding last year, but the limited numbers of hotel rooms and airline seats could make growth difficult in 2006, Hawaii Tourism Japan told members of the state's visitor industry yesterday.
The islands had 1.5 million Japanese visitors in 2005, a 2.7 percent gain over 2004, the first year that the Japan market had showed improvement in nearly seven years.
Given the strong performance of Hawaii's tourism industry, which had more than 7 million visitors in 2005, growth for the industry is expected to be moderate this year.
Strong demand from U.S. travelers, who book earlier than their Japanese counterparts, will limit opportunities for Asians to visit Hawaii in 2006, and will likely result in relatively flat growth, said Takashi Ichikura, executive director of Hawaii Tourism Japan, a unit of the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu Inc.
"We saw increases, but 2005 was not an easy year for the Japan major market area," said Ichikura, who was in town to present the 2006 marketing campaign.
In 2006, the same challenges will make it difficult to increase arrivals, so marketing will concentrate on increasing revenue instead, he said.
"We need to find ways to move away from the low-cost package tour," Ichikura said. "We can't sell Hawaii as the cheapest vacation."
"It is necessary to improve the quality of tourists, in terms of length of stay and spending."
Dentsu's $7.8 million campaign for this year, called "Discover Aloha," is designed to enhance the images of Hawaii that communicate the state's unique culture and history.
The marketing appeal is designed to reach a broader range of tourists who are more interested in diversity and value than their predecessors. Dentsu wants Japanese visitors to think of Hawaii as an exciting and mysterious place, with multiple islands and cultural traditions. Traditionally, most Japanese visitors flock to Waikiki and the Big Island.
Searching for new markets in Japan is also important in selling Hawaii to people who feel as if they know all there is to know about the destination, said Kiyoko Tanji, general manager of Hawaii Tourism Japan.
Developing niche markets such as the wedding/honeymoon market, the art/history market, the hula market and the walking/running market, is expected to help boost revenues, along with targeting higher-spending visitors such as Japan's baby boomers.
Six million to 8 million active seniors in Japan are due to retire between 2007 and 2011, Ichikura said.
"About 57 percent of them will plan a trip to mark their retirement," he said. Also, most will be freed from the burden of paying for their children's education and will have more disposable income.