Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Japanese honeymooners
making Hawaii top pick

By Russ Lynch


Japanese honeymooners' love affair with Hawaii will bloom anew this spring with 39 percent more couples than last spring saying they'll spend their first days of marriage here.

That puts Hawaii back on the map as Japan's favorite overseas honeymoon destination after losing to the U.S. mainland for three years, according to a recent survey by Japan's largest travel agency, Japan Travel Bureau Inc.

About 2,250 honeymooning couples have booked overseas trips through JTB's travel offices in Japan. That includes those getting married in Japan and traveling later as well as those actually getting married in Hawaii.

Of those travelers, 585 couples, or 26 percent of the total, said they are coming to Hawaii. Last year about 420 couples, also 26 percent of the total overseas honeymooners, said Hawaii was their destination.

And when it comes to actually getting married overseas, Hawaii has been and still is far ahead of other destinations, according to JTB.

Nearly six out of 10 Japanese couples planning to tie the knot overseas in the March-June period, 59.2 percent, say they will do so in Hawaii.

That makes Hawaii much more popular as a place to get married than Guam and Saipan, 14.5 percent, or the U.S. mainland, favored by 11.2 percent.

A total of 232 couples said they will wed in Hawaii, an increase of about 30 percent from 179 last year, JTB said.

Japanese wedding groups and honeymooners still want to go overseas, JTB said, and they find it a lot cheaper to do that than to have a typically expensive wedding and honeymoon in Japan.

But they are starting to look for bargains, JTB noted.

Meanwhile they still love Hawaii, for a number of reasons. "There is a rich and plentiful choice of churches and wedding attire for hire" in Hawaii, JTB said.

There is no worry about language problems or climate and the prices, accommodations and other conditions favor the practice of guests traveling with the bridal couple.

Honeymooners are among the best travelers from Japan because they stay longer, visitor industry officials say.

JTB's typical "Honolulu wedding" plan caters for five days in Honolulu for guests and eight days for the newlyweds. The average length of stay for all Japanese travelers to Hawaii is about five days.

The state's latest visitor count figures show that honeymoon trips from eastbound visitors, dominated by the Japanese, are up 45 percent for the first two months of 1999 vs. the same period last year.

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