Asian visitors want more night life
POSTED: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Chinese and Korean visitors, two key targets for growth in the state's recovering tourism industry, find plenty to like about Waikiki but say the night life is lacking.
In a survey commissioned by the Waikiki Improvement Association, the biggest complaint from tourists of both nationalities was the lack of evening entertainment in Waikiki.
"Once visitors have seen the Magic (of Polynesia) show and have seen all the shops, the only options are bars," states the study, done by SMS Research and Marketing Services.
The survey spoke with 61 visitors from China and 14 from Korea. It also spoke with seven travel agents for China and nine for Korea, and 13 local tourism officials.
"This is more of a focus group than a scientific survey," said Rick Egged, Waikiki Improvement Association president. "The emphasis is on the quality and type of answers given."
Egged said there is a general consensus that Waikiki needs to diversify its night life. The difficulty is finding the right price point attractive enough to draw visitors while being sustainable.
"It's not for lack of trying," Egged said. "It's just not easy to find the right combination of value and cost."
|Here are some observations from the Waikiki Improvement Association's survey of visitors from China and Korea:
» Chinese visitors wanted to experience new cultures as well as see links to China in the area.
"Waikiki Nei," an ambitious stage production from the Royal Hawaiian Showroom LLC, closed months after its summer 2008 debut. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It had listed between $10 million and $50 million in estimated assets and liabilities.
"Royal Hawaiian put a lot of money trying to come up with that formula and has been forced back into square one," Egged said.
Other concerns included a desire for more international signage and speakers of the respective languages, something hotels have been working toward, Egged said.
"It's kind of a chicken-and-egg issue, where you need to get the volume of visitors up before putting in the time and effort," Egged said. "But particular properties have already started, and we already have an advantage over many markets because we do have more community capacity to reach that goal."
Korean travel to Hawaii increased by 44 percent in 2009, thanks to advertising in Korea on the recent visa waiver program. Korean Airlines also is looking to increase flights in 2010. The Hawaii Tourism Authority projects a 35 percent increase in arrivals from Korea.
China is another growth market. Hawaii saw a 17 percent drop in visitors from China, but that was mostly due to the H1N1 flu fears from spring 2009.
A bright spot was daily Chinese tourist spending, which is currently the highest at about $312 a day. In 2009, 56 percent of Chinese visitors spent more than $2,000 per trip.
"As we're looking toward the future, we're trying to see what it's going to take to make Waikiki attractive enough to fill the promise of those two markets," Egged said.