Gathering Places


Let’s make sure all
visitors feel our aloha

Almost everyone in the state agrees that tourism is and will be Hawaii's major source of income for the foreseeable future. It should, without question, be nurtured as the state's major industry.

However, the past few years have seen a steady decline of Hawaii's ability to maintain its market share while the priority and attitude of the global tourist is changing. Escapism is being replaced by a desire to be enriched. The 21st-century traveler will demand experiences that are intellectually, emotionally and even spiritually stimulating and satisfying. Will they get these demands fulfilled in Hawaii ?

Kailua High School students danced at Honolulu International Airport in 1998 as part of a greeters program.

I believe there is a critical connection between our ability to maintain our global market share and the quality of the the visitor's opportunity to experience enrichment. If we are not careful to pay more attention to the product we are creating, we will be dealing with an entire generation of one-time visitors.

They will leave Hawaii feeling more like victims of tourism than like well-treated guests. We need to promote quality exchanges between the host culture and the hosted.

There is no greater visitor experience than to be touched by the genuine aloha that our special islands are capable of delivering. What we can deliver is aloha that is unconditional, shared with dignity -- and for our own enrichment as much as the visitors'.

The aloha spirit has been defined most eloquently as follows:

A is for "Akahai" -- kindness to be express with tenderness;
L is for "Lokahi" -- unity, to be expressed with harmony;
O is for "Olu'olu" -- agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
H is for "Ha'aha'a" -- humility, to be expressed with modesty;
A is for "Ahonui" -- patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are the traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii.

Approximately 16,000 employees and 400 tenants (including federal agencies, state agencies, the Department of Transportation, airlines, security, and various vendors) at Honolulu International Airport are committed to make it the most hospitable airport in the world. The quality of service at the airport must fulfill the visitor's expectations. Being the first and last group of people Hawaii's visitors meet, it is crucial that HIA and its employees extend Hawaii's aloha spirit and make the airport the most favorable part of the Hawaii experience.

A negative airport situation, particularly when arrival and departing, can spoil a Hawaiian vacation and has the potential to influence visitors to travel elsewhere next time. Thus, achieving a Hawaiian sense of place for our visitors must be our highest priority. After all, aloha comes from people.

David S. Matsumoto is administration manager for Japan Airlines.

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