Japan marathon entries up


POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Despite a challenging year for Japanese tourism to Hawaii, Japan entries for the Honolulu Marathon are running nearly 3 percent above last year.

Japanese tourism to Hawaii had fallen 7.5 percent through September; however, as of November there were 12,713 Japan entrants in the Honolulu Marathon as compared with 12,346 during the same period last year. In contrast, there were about 21,000 participants from Japan in 1995, the peak year.

“;In a very difficult environment, given all the things working against us, demand, in general, is as high as it has ever been,”; said Dr. Jim Barahal, president of the Honolulu Marathon.

While swine flu and the global economic downturn have contributed to an overall decline in Japan tourism to Hawaii, those hurdles were not insurmountable for dedicated runners, he said.

“;If you've been training for the marathon, you are like a time-share visitor: You have committed to come unless you are sick,”; said Dave Erdman, president and chief executive officer of PacRim Marketing. “;That's one of the reasons that this event is so important for Hawaii.”;

The strength of the yen also has boosted Japan travel, Erdman said.

“;Barring any major health issues, the exchange rate will help propel business into 2010,”; he said.

Buying power for Honolulu Marathon participants from Japan is about 15 percent greater this year than last, Barahal said.

“;We expect the economic impact of the Honolulu Marathon will be even greater than it was last year,”; he said, adding that marathon spending has exceeded $100 million for the past four years.

;[Preview]    Honolulu Marathon registration numbers up

The numbers for the Honolulu Marathon are up over the last year, with entries from Japan leading the field.

Watch ]


While Japan Honolulu Marathon participants pay their entry in yen, they will experience considerable savings while they are in Hawaii, Barahal said.

“;Their purchasing power is far greater than it has been,”; he said.

In addition to the favorable exchange rate, Hawaii has benefited from Japan's increased interest in running, Barahal said. “;Demand feeds demand,”; he said.

About 300,000 Japan runners applied for the Tokyo Marathon, but only 30,000 were accepted, he said.

“;That means 270,000 who expressed enough interest to fill out an application couldn't participate,”; Barahal said. “;Some may come here. We have enormous growth potential.”;

The Honolulu Marathon is branded as a destination sporting event providing ease of access for beginners and is friendly to foreign participants, Erdman said.

“;The marathon has been popular for years, but it's getting an extra boost from Japan's growing interest in health/wellness,”; he said.

New magazines and fashion lines are catering to this boom in Japan and are helping fuel interest in events like the Honolulu Marathon, Erdman said.






                AS OF OCT. 2
                TIME LAST YEAR
U.S. (mainland)9431,256
Other countries544662