Hawaii Tourism Authority Working to Compensate for Japan Visitor Decline

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) held a special meeting of its board to discuss plans in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan

One of the Authority's initiatives is to support the "Aloha for Japan" fundraising effort that was announced last week. In a statement, the authority encouraged people to contribute to the fund with direct monetary donations or by participating in one of the many planned events that will occur over the coming weeks.

The HTA board is also developing plans to respond to the anticipated decline in visitors from Japan due to the disaster. They are projecting the following shortfalls in targeted arrivals from Japan in the coming months:

· March – 25 percent decrease

· April – 45 percent decrease

· May – 35 percent decrease

· June – 30 percent decrease

To respond to this situation, the Authority is reiterating the statements by President Barack Obama, Governor Neil Abercrombie, and the U.S. Regulatory Commission that there is no danger to Hawaii from radiation.

The HTA will also be implementing programs to grow the number of visitors from other major markets to make up for the decline in visitors from Japan. The board has approved $1,869,000 from the Opportunity Fund and $1,186,000 from the Tourism Special Fund Reserve to be used to offset the projected shortfall from the Japan tragedy. These efforts include:

· Three new market saturation programs in key feeder markets in North America;

· Increasing the number of flights from Korea;

· Working to secure additional direct charter flights from China as well as improve air access for visitors from China through Korea; 

· Increasing airlift from both Australia and New Zealand;

· Sending a delegation from the HTA to Japan to meet with our travel partners to implement programs to re-stimulate travel from Japan at the appropriate time; and

· Sustaining scheduled group business from Japan, as well as working with meetings planners to reschedule their meetings, if necessary, in Hawaii at a later time.

Because of the major emphasis on increasing airlift, the HTA is also dispatching David Uchiyama, HTA Vice President of Brand Management, to the Routes Asia 2011 Conference, one of the key airline conferences in Asia. Uchiyama will meet with Asia airline partners to discuss the development of new air service, protect existing airlift, and help shape the future of air route development for the Asia region.

To fund these initiatives, the HTA will be utilizing monetary reserves that were set aside to respond to emergencies, reallocating some existing marketing funds, and utilizing some money from the HTA’s marketing opportunity fund.

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