Japan-isle weddings pushed


POSTED: Saturday, March 28, 2009

The global economic crisis might have hurt Hawaii's overall destination wedding business, but some members of the state's visitor industry think that it could prove to be a boon to the Japan market.

Visitors who came to Hawaii from out of state to attend destination weddings dropped 16 percent from a year ago, according to the most recent data available from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, but the opportunity for cost savings could bring more Japanese wedding couples and guests to the islands this year. As a result, Hawaii Tourism Japan is partnering with airlines, wedding companies, hotels, travel and retail companies in Hawaii on a fall wedding promotion.

"In conjunction with the [Hawaii In My Life, My Anniversary Hawaii] campaign, HTJ is planning to launch a wedding promotion this fall to help rejuvenate Hawaii's Japanese wedding market," said HTJ's Lea Okudara.

DBEDT said that the number of visitors from Japan who came to get married or attend a wedding in Hawaii has fallen from 74,164 in 2006 to 57,628 last year, but HTJ hopes to attract an additional 10,000 visitors as part of this campaign.

"Over the last year or two, we've seen a decline related to the Japanese market but they continue to be a very important market so we need to rally around HTJ's campaign," said Connie Flattery, director of sales and marketing for Marriot North Asia, Hawaii and South Pacific.

The timing, which takes place in the middle of a lagging economy, could prove fortuitous for Hawaii, said Akio Hoshino, senior vice president for Jalpak International Hawaii.

"Sometimes it's cheaper to have a wedding here in Hawaii than in Japan because in many wedding cases in Japan the couple invites many guests and spends a big amount," Hoshino said.

On average, it costs Japan couples $8,800 to hold a destination wedding in Hawaii attended by about 10 friends and family members as compared with $38,000 for a traditional large wedding at home, according to data from HTJ.

In addition, wedding couples participating in the promotion would receive a variety of value-added incentives ranging from discount tour, retail, restaurant and spa services to hotel room and service upgrades, free gift vouches and other VIP offerings.