With a Web survey showing that many Japanese are reluctant to travel to Hawaii, a delegation of state leaders heading there next month should strive to harvest a healthy crop of visitors.
crucial for tourism
The issue: Governor Cayetano
will go to Tokyo to lure hesitant
visitors to Hawaii.
The main message of the delegation, to be led by Governor Cayetano and include sumo star Akebono, should be that Hawaii is open for business, that it would be safe to come here, and that the presence of visitors would be welcome and not seen as disrespectful of a nation in mourning. The delegation also could show off the products, entertainment and visitor attractions in which Hawaii specializes. Altogether, this would broaden the benefits of an expected $10-million state subsidy to the tourist industry.
To encourage the Japanese, the delegation should take with them o-miyage, or gifts, a tradition imported from Japan, as tokens of appreciation. Perhaps a mini "Made in Hawaii" fair could be set up with each of the county's mayors, who are expected to make the trip. Maybe the best o-miyage would be the promise to travelers of a swift and courteous passage through immigration and customs, even though that is not the governor's responsibility, and safety on the streets, golf courses and beaches, which are within his kuleana.
Visitors from Japan generate about 43 percent of the tourist money spent in the state, according to the Japan-Hawaii Travel Association. The number of Japanese tourists has dropped to about half of the usual since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Even so, a majority of those who had planned trips to Hawaii in the next few months still intend to come here, according to Web site survey monitored by PacRim Marketing Group Inc.
However, a quarter of the respondents did not feel it appropriate to vacation when the state and the nation are grieving and about the same number were afraid of flying after the hijackings.
With former governors John Waihee and George Ariyoshi in the delegation, our political leaders would exhibit to potential visitors how important they are to Hawaii. Perhaps the governor should invite Linda Lingle, chairwoman of the opposition Republican Party, to join the delegation to give it a bi-partisan flavor and a stronger appeal in Japan. All told, this venture has promise and should be fully supported.
PRESIDENT Bush's plan to improve security at airports and aboard commercial flights should relieve much of the anxiety of Americans planning business or vacation trips. Travelers will appreciate heightened security measures even though they will cause inconvenience, but many will not fly if forced to pass through a nonsensical gantlet. The government will need to strike that delicate balance to revive the nation's air transportation, the underpinning of Hawaii's tourism industry.
Security plans could
calm traveler nerves
The issue: President Bush has
announced plans to protect cockpits
and put the federal government
in charge of aviation security.
Bush announced that $500 million will be spent on modifying planes to fortify cockpit doors. Opening of the doors will be restricted in flight to deny access from the cabin. That alone might have prevented the terrorists from hijacking planes on Sept. 11.
The president said he will expand the Federal Air Marshal program, which has dwindled during the past two decades, and seek congressional approval to make the expansion permanent. The presence of armed marshals will eliminate any reason for pilots to be armed, as their union proposed.
Bush said the government also will look into development of technology that would allow air traffic controllers to take the helm of planes during emergencies and land them by remote control. Experts say such technology is attainable.
He will ask Congress to put the federal government in charge of airport security, with federal uniformed personnel supervising passenger and baggage security operations performed by employees of private companies. Those companies have been inadequate, typically paying minimum wages to their employees to win bidding contests. Although the president's plan calls for civilian personnel to undergo intensive background checks and training, low-wage workers are to remain at critical positions.
Congress may want to federalize airport security entirely. Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., have introduced a bill that would make airport security a branch of federal law enforcement.
While Congress debates the issue, governors are asked to call upon National Guard troops to augment existing security staff at the nation's 420 airports, at federal expense. The White House said implementation of its proposal may take four to six months, but it might take longer if Congress opts for the Kerry-McCain approach.
The Bush proposal includes new standards for security operations. That should include lengthier examinations of scanned baggage, both check-in and carry-on. Security experts have said that some contraband items are not recognizable in the few seconds that screeners are allotted to examine scanned baggage.
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