Hawaii's Silver Week Boosts Numbers

Every now and then, a rare alignment of Japanese holidays and weekends occurs that gives most people in the Land of the Rising Sun a seven- to nine-day vacation. Silver Week is a special occasion (the next one won't be until 2015), and at the end of last month, Japanese workers celebrated their holiday by taking off and traveling.

Not surprisingly, a popular destination for Japanese travelers during Silver Week was Hawaii. "We [regularly] get about 2,500–3,000 Japanese arrivals daily," said Hawaii Tourism Authority Vice President David Uchiyama. "During Silver Week, we anticipated 4,000–4,500. The actual numbers were 6,500 per day, and we peaked at 7,000 per day."

The increased numbers were welcome news, especially after Hawaii has been hit with greatly reduced numbers in the wake of the recession and H1N1 scares. Uchiyama feels that the recent low numbers may have influenced the increase during Silver Week. "A lot of travelers felt that they’d missed opportunities because of concerns," he said, noting that when people postponed their vacations, they still kept the option to rebook. "We had airlines add additional flights due to increased demand. That allowed us to hit those numbers."

The increase helped the islands' beleagured hospitality and tourism industry, Uchiyama continued, noting that hotels and tour groups were operating at more than 90 percent capacity. "The industry here as a whole has stepped up to plate in terms of value-adds, making [Hawaii] very attractive for consumers," he said. Value-added packages have had an impact on numbers, he continued, pointing out a five to seven percent increase in West Coast traffic in the last three months. "The booking pace for future is gaining momentum," he said. "For the Japanese market, Silver Week was a shot in the arm. That momentum started with the Emperor and Empress coming to Hawaii and showing the Japanese market as a whole that Hawaii has a deep connection with Japan. The yen is strong against the dollar, and fuel surcharges, which had been expensive, have gone down. The combinations are ideal for consumers."