Wednesday, April 14, 1999

Hawaii due
to get boost from
Japan holidays

A survey shows 54,000 from
the country will come to the isles
during Golden Week

By Russ Lynch


Japan's Golden Week holiday period, from the end of April through the first week in May, promises to be good for Hawaii's tourist industry.

Although a new survey by Japan Travel Bureau shows a dip from last year, the numbers are still strong and hotel bookings are already heavy, tourist industry officials say.

JTB, Japan's largest travel agency, said its survey shows 54,000 Japanese headed for Hawaii for the holiday period, down 5.3 percent from 57,000 last year.

But last year's total was 45 percent higher than the year before, JTB said.

Sheraton Hawaii's Keith Vieira said Golden Week bookings are stronger than last year although the length of stay appears to be a little shorter.

The fact that so many Japanese are coming, despite a recent tendency toward taking holidays outside the peak and most expensive periods, is good news for Hawaii, said Gilbert Kimura, regional sales manager of Japan Airlines Inc.

Older Japanese travelers have been more reluctant to travel because of the country's recession, he said, but that doesn't seem true of young people.

Kimura said he has heard that hotels across the state are solidly booked for the period.

"Hopefully, it will be a good Golden Week," he said of the period of four national holidays. "It's almost a week and a half this year."

One factor this year is the days of the week on which the holidays fall. They begin with Greenery Day, formerly the emperor's birthday, on Thursday April 29. The following Monday is Constitutional Memorial Day, Tuesday is People's Holiday and Wednesday is Children's Day.

By taking Friday April 30 off, Japanese workers can get at least seven straight travel days and can extend it to 11 days if they also take May 6 and 7 off, JTB noted.

"Long breaks of this kind are a pattern that favors overseas trips," JTB said.

JTB said its survey showed that despite Japan's economic worries, those who say they will travel overseas during Golden Week are up 8 percent from last year.

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