HONOLULU (KHON2) — In Japan, COVID vaccination rates are on the rise and the number of cases is trending down. Now, the Japanese government is gradually easing restrictions, and local tourism officials hope this will lead to Japanese visitors returning to Hawaii.
Hawaii Tourism Japan says the news couldn’t have come at a better time.
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“Maybe over $200 million is the kind of number we got from the industry that they are losing per month,” said Eric Takahata, general manager of Hawaii Tourism Japan.
The Japanese market attracts 1.7 million visitors to the islands each year, spending around $250 per person per day. Visitors to Japan are not only known to be the highest paid tourists.
“We want the Japanese traveler to come back. You couldn’t find a more respectful and pono visitor to Hawaii. They are very respectful of our culture and natural resources,” Takahata said.
However, one of the challenges in bringing Japanese tourists back is their travel restrictions.
“Even if they’re vaccinated, they have to take a COVID test to come here, and they have to take another COVID test when they get home and self-quarantine for 14 days,” said Jerry Agrusa, professor of management. of the travel industry at UH Manoa.
The Japanese government is considering reducing the quarantine from 14 days to 10 days. Meanwhile, experts predict that with the return of the Japanese tourist will come the return of a stable workforce.
“Wedding companies or businesses that depend on the Japanese visitor are suffering. You see a lot of businesses not being able to reopen because the Japanese visitor hasn’t come back here significantly. So a lot of hotel properties are telling us the same thing,” Takahata said.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority is preparing to welcome more international travelers by working with global agencies to get this message across.
“We ask that vaccinated travelers come. We ask travelers to wear their masks, wash their hands, stay socially distant and respect the rules we have,” said Kalani Ka’ana’ana, Chief Brand Officer of the Tourism Authority of India. Hawaii.
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Hawaii Tourism Japan says it expects the end of this year to be a busy booking period for Japanese tourists, and hopes Hawaii will see them return in early 2022.