Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Developing Plans in Response to Japan Tsunami

Media Release:

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) today held a special meeting of the HTA board to discuss plans in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. We wish to express our heartfelt Aloha for the people of Japan and let them know that the people of Hawai‘i continue to support and stand in unity with them during this difficult time.

To this end, one of our initiatives is to support the Aloha for Japan fundraising effort that was announced last week. And we encourage everyone 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. We are projecting the following shortfalls in targeted arrivals from Japan in the coming months:

March – 25% decrease

April – 45% decrease

May – 35% decrease

June – 30% decrease

To respond to this situation, we have already been getting the word out through national and international news media that Hawai‘i is still open for business. And we are reiterating the statements by President Barack Obama, Governor Neil Abercrombie, and the U.S. Regulatory Commission that there is no danger to Hawai‘i 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. Today, the HTA board took action to achieve these goals by approving $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 Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Developing Plans in Response to Japan Tsunami
  • 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
  • Sustaining scheduled group business from Japan, as well as working with meetings planners to reschedule their meetings, if necessary, in Hawai‘i at a later time.

With these initiatives, the HTA remains committed to achieving our 2011 HTA Strategic Plan goals and preserving the momentum of our tourism economy recovery.

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 our 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.

The HTA is committed to maintaining the funding currently allocated to programs in natural resources, Hawaiian culture, festivals and workforce development. We fully appreciate the need to continue programs that help maintain Hawai‘i’s incomparable visitor experience.

We want to express our appreciation to the community, the visitor industry, our travel partners, the HTA’s marketing partners, the HTA board, and Hawai‘i’s government leaders for their cooperation and support of our efforts. We are confident that by working together, our community will be able to respond to this situation, endure our current challenges, and, at the same time, continue to support the people of Japan.

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