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.