Wednesday, October 10, 2001

From left, retired yokozuna (or sumo grand champion) and
former Hawaii resident Akebono (Chad Rowan) joined
former Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi, current Gov. Ben
Cayetano and former Gov. John Waihee to encourage
Japanese people to visit Hawaii during a news conference
in Tokyo yesterday.

Gov. Cayetano leads
delegation to encourage
Japanese visitors

Star-Bulletin news services

TOKYO >> Gov. Cayetano asked the Japanese government today for cooperation to help boost Hawaii's tourism industry, which has been badly hit by last month's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the number of Japanese tourists heading for Hawaii fell 55 percent compared with the same period last year, according to figures provided by the state. About a quarter of tourists who visit the state are Japanese.

As the number of overall tourists is expected to drop, the Hawaii Visitors Bureau estimates a loss of $1 billion in visitors' spending between Sept. 11 and Dec. 31 this year, including $400 million from Japanese.

More than 1,000 people have lost their jobs in layoffs in the hotel and other sectors, Cayetano said at a news conference in Tokyo.

Cayetano urged the Japanese to resume travel to Hawaii, assuring them of their safety.

"Hawaii is taking every measure to make your travel to Hawaii safe," Cayetano said. "Let me say that Hawaii is probably the safest place in the entire United States to travel to right now."

Cayetano said the FBI has indicated there is no evidence or indication of any kind of terrorist activities or a terrorist presence in Hawaii.

He also said Hawaii's National Guard is providing additional security at airports and that U.S. aviation authorities have rated Hawaii's airports the safest in the country.

Also present at the news conference were former sumo wrestlers and Hawaii natives Akebono (Chad Rowan) and Takamiyama (Jesse Kuhaulua). Takamiyama is now sumo stable master Azumazeki.

Later in the day, Cayetano met separately with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and transport minister Chikage Ogi and asked for Japan's help to stem the fall in the number of Japanese tourists to Hawaii, government officials said.

Ogi was quoted as replying, "Your visit to Japan may have made (the Japanese people) understand they can visit Hawaii without anxiety."

Cayetano arrived in Tokyo yesterday, heading a delegation of business leaders and two former Hawaii governors on a five-day visit to promote travel to the islands.

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