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Japan arrivals plummet


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Swine flu was not on the radar yesterday for Takahashi Masayuki of Tokyo and seven family members who were having fun in the sun at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

“;We're not worried,”; said Masayuki, who has visited Hawaii seven times and owns a Hilton time share.

“;In May and June, people were worried in Japan, but not now. People are more concerned about the price of airfare.”;

Still, swine flu put a damper on Hawaii's visitor counts from Japan in June, causing that market to plummet 32.8 percent to 62,605 visitors, its lowest level since May 2003, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported yesterday.

Spending by Japanese visitors was down a corresponding 34 percent last month, the agency said.

Japan posted the worst results of any Hawaii source market and contributed to a 5.2 percent decline in total visitor arrivals and a 16.1 percent drop in overall visitor spending in June.

June arrivals from Canada also experienced a double-digit drop, but travel from the U.S. East fell only 4 percent last month and arrivals from the U.S. West, Hawaii's top visitor market, actually rose, by 4.9 percent.

Hawaii's visitor industry executives have said that while the core Japanese market will continue struggling, they think the worst likely is over.

The Japanese market to Hawaii is weak, but it could rebound in July and August, said Danny Ojiri, vice president of sales and marketing for Asia Pacific for Outrigger Enterprises.

“;Between the economy and the swine flu, we had the perfect storm,”; Ojiri said. “;It can only get better.”;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
VISITOR ARRIVALS
        The number of visitors arriving in June, with the percentage change from the same month last year:
 VISITORSPCT.
Domestic444,305+1.0
International106,116-24.6
Total550,421-5.2
 
BY ISLAND
Oahu329,902-9.0
Kauai87,729-8.6
Lanai5,414-25.0
Maui176,455-4.3
Molokai3,560-41.1
Big Island107,100-4.2
Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority

Indeed, the Japanese market was showing signs of health during April's Golden Week period, a traditional travel time for Japanese visitors, said Akio Hoshino, senior vice president for JalPak International Hawaii.

But with June's dismal performance factored in, Japan's year-to-date visitor arrivals fell by 11 percent, and spending during the first six months of 2009 dropped 11.3 percent.

When swine flu hit, Hawaii saw cancellations from Japan climb to about 30 percent, Ojiri said. However, that rate has improved, and Hawaii's Japanese market is expected to post gains in September, he said.

Japanese travelers are expected to respond positively to the so-called Silver Week, which runs Sept. 19-23, Hoshino said, adding that it is the first time that they have had such a favorable holiday period in the fall.

“;The majority of Japanese people work very hard. They don't have a lot of big holidays. So whenever they have consecutive holiday periods, they try to travel,”; he said

The HTA rearranged its budget to fund a consumer marketing campaign in Japan, said Mike McCartney, HTA president and chief executive. The agency has begun to see positive results from the 23 extra flights that its airline partners added in July and August, and the eight additional flights added during Silver Week, he said.

Still, the Japanese market remains sensitive to swine flu and the economy, and continues to be susceptible to cost and quality, Hoshino said. Hawaii will be hurt by fuel surcharges by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways beginning in October, and by tour price increases caused by the hike in Hawaii's transient accommodations tax, he said.

               

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

       

       

     

     

       

     

 

SLOWDOWN CONTINUES

Total visitor arrivals to Hawaii and the monthly percentage change:

       

2009

       

MonthArrivals % change
June550,421-5.2
May516,204-6.9
April541,610-1.3
March555,902-16.6
February527,222-12.7
January522,241-12.5
2008
MonthArrivals % change
December563,542-16.5
November496,877-15.9
October511,518-13.5
September461,052-19.5
August608,392-17.4
July614,207-14.1
June580,862-14.2
May554,399-7.4
April548,792-7.6
March666,167-1.0
February603,689+5.9
January597,126+4.1
Year total6,806,622-10.8
Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority